LBPD’s TigerTexty policing: when evidence vanishes, so does crime

You’ve heard of “broken windows” policing? It’s based on the theory that “visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.”

In Long Beach, the city operates on a different theory called TigerTexty policing. The idea is simple: the police delete evidence of wrongdoing, cover-up misconduct in their ranks, and scream cry at critics. And everything works out just fine.

Here’s an example: Long Beach Police officers allowed local bar owners to break into and hijack a bar belonging to a rival. According to the owner of the hijacked bar, a LBPD sergeant told him that “the burglary and theft of his inventory was a civil matter and refused to take a crime report.” LBPD Internal Affairs backed up the sergeant and dismissed the bar owner’s complaints as unfounded.

Stephen Downing — a frequent target of scream-crying defenders of the LBPD — explains it all in a two-part article in The Beachcomberpart one | part two.

TigerTexty policing gets its name from a messaging app that was used by 145 LBPD officers, including command staff, on department-issued phones starting in 2014. The app automatically, permanently deleted text messages after five days. This went on until September 2018 when Al-Jazeera broke the story. The L.A. Times followed up.

LBPD Chief Robert Luna helpfully explained that the text messages — exchanged by public officials while conducting official business — were just like “handwritten notes” that are routinely thrown away. It sounds as if prior to TigerText, LBPD internal communications involved passing notes to one another in the hallways.

Chief Luna suspended his department’s use of the app while investigations are underway. The L.A. District Attorney’s Office is said to be looking into it. In addition, the City of Long Beach and the LBPD are “independently” reviewing the matter.

As Downing pointed out in The Beachcomber, this is a perfect example of TigerTexty policing: call it an “independent investigation” but be sure that the people conducting it are beholden to the people being investigated…because misconduct completely disappears when public officials are allowed to police themselves.

According to Downing, LBPD commanders met to reassure one another that all evidence exchanged via TigerText had been safely, permanently deleted. See how well it works?

There are a lot of good and great police officers in the department, certainly. My problem, perhaps, is that the brilliance of the command staff is too dazzling for my mortal eyes to see. The LBPD is so special that it has its own TigerTexty way of investigating officer-involved shootings. published the original investigative report entitled, ‘It can easily be perceived as a cover-up:’ Long Beach’s ‘odd’ way of handling police shootings. The gist: “Long Beach is the only city in Los Angeles County whose police department almost never interviews its officers after they’ve shot someone.”

Nah. Why would they? That would entail making a candid record. If there’s no record, there’s no evidence. If there’s no evidence, there’s no crime. Truly revolutionary.