(Replay) A Conversation with Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna
As part of our month long celebration of the launch of Palacio Magazine last year, we replay one of our first articles on Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. The video interview was conducted by and the print article written by Vivian J. Malauulu. Ms. Malauulu is the incoming member of the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees. They discussed leadership and his vision for the Long beach Police Department. Here’s part two of that conversation.
In the hour long spent interview with Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, he always returned to three basic fundamental beliefs: diversity, leadership, and his remarkable love for the city itself.
For Police Chief Robert Luna, his love for Long Beach is evident and longstanding. He has been with the department for his entire adult life – 29 years to be exact – since he met then Long Beach Police Sergeant Mike Woodward at a career day hosted by Long Beach City College. Luna was 18 years old at the time and after that fateful meeting, he promptly signed up to become a reserve officer. He had just graduated from high school, the first in his family. Luna soon enrolled at Cal State Long Beach and obtained both bachelor’s and master’s degrees all the while working full time and raising a family in the city.
“I think this city is great,” said Robert Luna, “it’s a great city to live in, work in and start a business in.”
Police Chief Robert Luna on Leadership
“Leadership is a hobby of mine,” said Luna about the second concept, which repeatedly surfaced as he spoke, adding, “in order to be a good leader you have to be a good follower.” Like a true leader, he confessed that the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up in the morning is “how am I going to make a difference today?”
When asked why he thinks he was chosen this time around, he smiled and said, “I was chosen because I am the right person at the right time.” Luna said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been as prepared for anything in my entire life.” Robert Luna was runner-up to now Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell in the 2010 Long Beach police chief selection process.
To Luna, leadership is about relationships built on ethics, character, integrity, and respect. Stating, “public trust is number one,” he is committed to making sure that everyone in Long Beach feels safe.
“Residents play a significant role in the Long Beach Police Department,” Luna said. “We cannot succeed without our community and vice versa. We need each other in order to build the community that we dream of.”
Police Chief Robert Luna is the First
The final concept in this philosophical trinity involves diversity. Luna is the first Latino to serve as the city’s chief of police, and Long Beach – the seventh largest city in California – is home to a population that is 41% Latino. His love for the city and his commitment to being a good leader are deeply rooted in his appreciation for the diversity the city and the department have to offer. This diversity includes the training and the jobs he’s held in the department that has prepared Luna for his new position.
“I have been blessed to have had a diversity of jobs within this department,” Luna said.
Police Chief Robert Luna believes that police relationship within the community must be very strong. “We have to be professionals not only on-duty but also off-duty because we are examples to everyone around us,” he stated. “We are accountable to our community and to ourselves.”
“I’m living a dream,” said Luna, who wanted to become a police officer since he was five years old. He added that he is very proud of his heritage, and that it is significant a Latino heads the Long Beach police department.
“The unique thing about being the chief of police is that this is a 24/7 operation,” Luna said. “Police work is very dangerous and I pray every night that our military, our firefighters, and our own police officers are safe and go home to their families at the end of their shifts.” And that, he said, is last thing he thinks about before he falls asleep at night.