1992 was a rough time for the Long Beach/Los Angeles area. Graffiti, gangs and juvenile crime were on the rise and affected many neighborhoods. Then on the afternoon of April 29, 1992, the cities were ripped apart by massive civil unrest, as citizens took to the streets in response to the jury verdicts that acquitted several Los Angeles police officers of criminal charges of police brutality during the arrest of Rodney King in March 1991. Residents of Long Beach watched TV in horror as fires lit up the sky and the burning and looting moved from South Central LA south into Long Beach. The DMV, then located on the northwest corner of Willow and Pacific was burned. The windows of shops along PCH were broken and the contents looted. An evening curfew was put in place for several days. Some parents did not send their children to school.
In response, SHORTSTOP was brought to Long Beach in 1994, a juvenile diversion program which would reach at-risk youth at a critical point in their lives, when violence or crime have already led them to an encounter with the court system, but before they break the law as adults.