This January, the City of Long Beach launched a first-of-its kind Justice Lab to provide new tools to first responders to divert residents in need out of the criminal justice system and toward much-needed resources like treatment and care.
The Justice Lab was developed through a partnership between the City’s Innovation Team, or “i-team,” and the Long Beach Public Safety Continuum. The Continuum consists of Police, Fire, Health, and Development Services Departments; the City Prosecutor’s Office; neighborhood associations; nonprofits; and residents who work collaboratively to make Long Beach a better and safer place.
“We see the same people cycle through our public safety services, most of the time for low-level offenses,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “The Justice Lab will use a data-driven approach to re-design how we work together in the City to better serve these community members.”
After analyzing over 100,000 offenses in Long Beach during a five-year period, the i-team determined that 85% of repeat offenses are not serious crimes, but rather low-level misdemeanors. First responders like police officers and firefighters until now have had few tools to help individuals in need, who often wind up in a deepening cycle of arrest and incarceration.
The Justice Lab has eight initiatives designed to help break the cycle of incarceration, including:
“The Justice Lab initiative will be a valuable program that benefits our entire community,” stated Police Chief Robert Luna. “Connecting people to services that can help divert them from the criminal justice system and get their lives back on track is a win for us all.”
“Making people the priority is critical to developing human-centered solutions,” said i-team Director Tracy Colunga. “The Justice Lab will allow Long Beach to think creatively about how we can deploy criminal justice resources most effectively to keep our community safe while giving every resident the chance to thrive.”
The Justice Lab was developed based on the i-team’s people-focused and data-driven approach that involved 26 in-depth interviews with people who had 11 or more citations and arrests. Additionally, the i-team spoke with over 21 subject matter experts, participated in over 12 observational visits, and had over 65 participants help co-create the Justice Lab’s initiatives.
The public will be informed on the roll-out and progress of the initiatives throughout 2018. Stay informed about the Justice Lab by visiting www.longbeach.gov/iteam or by following the i-team on Twitter @iteam_LongBeach, Instagram and Facebook.
About Long Beach Innovation Team (i-team)
Now working in more than 20 cities across four countries, the Innovation Teams Program helps cities solve problems in new ways to deliver better results for residents. Bloomberg Philanthropies awards cities multi-year grants to create in-house innovation teams, or “i-teams,” which offer cities a different set of tools and techniques to innovate more effectively and tackle critical challenges—from reducing violent crime to revitalizing neighborhoods to strengthening the growth of small businesses.
Launched in 2015 by Mayor Robert Garcia and City Manager Patrick H. West, Long Beach’s i-team works closely and supportively with their colleagues across city government. The i-team is currently working on its priority following its work on Economic Development, which produced initiatives like BizPort, an online business portal providing resources for entrepreneurs. The i-team’s work on the Economic Development Blueprint continues to drive investment by the City strengthening Long Beach’s economy.