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Long Beach Police Chief addresses city's rise in violent crime

Long Beach Police Chief outlines plan to address spike in violent crime
Long Beach Police Chief outlines plan to address spike in violent crime 02:26

A veteran cleaning his yard, a teenager walking home from work and a vendor selling fruit in the middle of the afternoon are just some of the people killed during deadly shootings in Long Beach this year. 

"I was walking everywhere, all the time," resident Lucea Marquez said. "But now I can't feel safe."

In the first five months of the year, the Long Beach Police Department said they have seen an uptick in shootings and murders. So far this year, there have been 137 shootings across the city, with 61 people wounded. It's an 8% increase from the same time last year. So far this year, there have been 13 murders in Long Beach. The department said they have cleared 61.5% of those killings. 

Some of the shootings happen right in the middle of Long Beach neighborhoods and sadly leave their mark. Along a sidewalk outside of Briana Soto's family home lies a memorial for the 17-year-old. She was shot and killed while walking on her way home. Police have not found her killer. 

Long Beach Police Chief Wally Hebeish attributed the rise in crime to gang violence. He outlined the plan his department has implemented to curb it. KCAL News

"Anytime somebody loses their life, it worries me," Long Beach Police Chief Wally Hebeish said.

Hebeish said one reason for the uptick in shootings and murders is gang violence. 

"What we're seeing now is a gang involvement in more of the shootings than we have seen in the two prior years," he said. 

In May, the department launched a new High Crime Focus Team, whose sole job is determining high-risk areas and people. 

"The majority of shootings are happening in our central area, which is west, south division and North Long Beach," Hebeish said. "Those are the areas we want to we want to apply the resources we have available."

However, this move comes at a time when the department has a shortage of officers. Despite this, officers claim that 61% of the murders have resulted in an arrest. 

"It's not just about having a police officer on every corner," Hebeish said. "While I would love to have that, it goes beyond law enforcement."

The department is also working with community groups like gang intervention organizations. Hebeish believes both enforcement and community support will help make a change. 

"We are committed to this entire city and were doing what we can to keep everyone safe," he said. 

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