With businesses, residents on edge, Long Beach seeks to improve downtown safety

Amanda Palacios Image
Saturday, November 4, 2023
Long Beach looking to reduce downtown crime after spike in incidents
A series of violent and disturbing crimes in downtown Long Beach has many business owners on edge.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A series of violent and disturbing crimes in downtown Long Beach has many business owners on edge.

They range from a sexual assault happening during the middle of the day to a man exposing himself in front of a salon window.

"I have seen a lot of it happen. I actually was standing at the front door when she was sexually assaulted," said Christine Parsley, owner of ReCircle Home.

RELATED: DA decides to charge Long Beach sex-assault suspect, reversing earlier decision

Los Angeles DA George Gascón has filed charges against a Long Beach sexual-assault suspect, after facing backlash for initially declining the case.

Parsley says after the recent incidents; she is now terrified to leave her store.

"I carry pepper spray now to go to the store to go get a beverage and I've never done that before," she said. "And I've never felt like this in this neighborhood before."

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson said he is working to improve safety in downtown Long Beach by adding more police presence and mental health resources.

"We need to partner with our counties to make sure we deploy more mental health and substance use vans and treatment here in our downtown. Comprehensively we need to work together to support our small businesses," Richardson said.

Many business owners say the recent crimes have affected their customers and safety and they hope the resources the mayor plans on deploying are a long-term solution.

"There's a lot of different problems on the street. Mental health (resources) would help, a lot of outreach to that. We can't have criminals sitting on the street either, pitching tents on the corner," said Michael Mosselli, owner of Brushstrokes & Beverages.

The president of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance says he is also working with the mayor's office and the Long Beach Police Department to increase safety ambassadors.

"Our biggest program is our Clean and Safe Team," said Austin Metoyer, president and CEO of Downtown Long Beach Alliance. "Our safety ambassadors, they patrol downtown seven days a week. If a business owner or resident, an employee feels uncomfortable, our safety ambassadors provide that safety escort service."

"They've been coming out a lot more too, which we really appreciate. It does make us feel a little better to see that kind of stuff going on," Parsley said.