City of Los Angeles Cuts $150 Million from the LAPD, Activists and Unions Respond
The Los Angeles City Council approved the decision to cut $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) with the council voting 12 to two on June 30.
Defunding the LAPD will cut hiring and leave the department with under 10,000 police officers.
At the beginning of June, the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion to move forward to defund the department by $150 million this upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year.
“We don’t need to be a better version of what we are; we need to be something entirely different. We need to produce a society designed to meet people’s needs, rather than one based solely on the pursuit of wealth, largely at the expense of the Black and Latinx communities,” according to the motion made by the budget and finance committee.
In 2019, the LAPD’s total budget was $3.2 billion, according to the city of Los Angeles proposed budget.
The police department uses more than half of unrestricted money that can be reinvested towards any other programs if the mayor or council wishes to do so, according to a report from the LA Times.
In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the LAPD will be downsized to $1.8 billion, and the city plans on reinvesting the funds to departments overlooking public health programs.
“Public safety is bigger than a police department. Today, we approved our motion to continue to invest more money into disenfranchised communities and introduced a motion to reimagine what public safety looks like now,” LA City Council President, Nury Martinez tweeted.
Due to the budget being trimmed, police officers enter situations that go beyond their training by dealing with homelessness, mental health, social work, and COVID-19 related incidents.
“Experts at community-based organizations should respond to calls about mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse & more. Not police,” Assemblymember of the 54th district, Sydney Kamlager tweeted.
The City of Los Angeles plans to develop a new crisis response to deal with non-violent, non-criminal situations with services connected to city, county, and community resources.
The new crisis response plan will replace law enforcement officials with medical professionals, mental health workers, homeless workers, and other services.
Programs such as CAHOOTS, a 24/7 mobile crisis intervention in Oregon is a model for the new crisis response plan in California.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been pushing an agenda to defund police departments across the country.
“The mayor’s newfound commitment to rolling back the initial increases that he proposed did not come from a sense of commitment to Black community, but because of the pressure of organizers and hundreds of thousands of protestors, who have been rising up all around the city and landed this week at his front door,” statement made by the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
Originally, activist organizations such as People’s budget LA, People’s City Council, and Black Lives Matter Movement wanted a far higher budget cut across the police department.
“We know that even if it’s 150 million dollars or whatever it’s not even scratching the surface. It’s taking away what has already been extra, and it’s an empty gesture that doesn’t mean anything,” organizer of People’s City Council LA, Albert Corado, told Scriberr News.
Activists such as Corado do not see this year’s budget cuts as a victory, he explains the real success is how much attention “defunding the police” has received throughout these months.
Many activists and community members called into city council meetings in June to express their support in reallocating funds from the police department.
“We need something different and for anyone to even say that giving police more money will solve that, no way,” Corado said.
“It’s because they have so much money, they can do whatever they want, because they have a powerful union. They have a lot of people who support them, and we have a mayor who loves cops and will never say that a cop has ever done anything wrong.”
Changing public safety is a personal fight for Corado, he said.
On July 21, 2018, police were on a pursuit to capture a suspect as he barricaded himself inside a Trader Joe’s for nearly four hours. Shots were fired into the store, and Corado’s sister, the store manager, was shot and killed by police.
“When my sister was killed, you have the police chief saying, ‘Well, our officers were in a tough situation, it was a split second decision, they did what they have to do,” Corado said.
“There’s no room for him (police chief) even to try to say, we’re sorry, and we made a mistake. No, he has to come out and be in support of his officers.”
Although the fight continues for Corado and other activists, not everyone agrees with the efforts to defund police departments.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), the police union representing the LAPD, has been vocal in disagreeing with the recent budget proposal.
Director of LAPPL, Rob Harris, went on Fox News to discuss the adverse effects he believes will happen once law enforcement is defunded.
“Council President Nury Martinez ‘budget motion was absolutely the antithesis of leadership,” Harris told Fox News. “Real leadership exercises ownership, real leadership solves problems, it unites us, it brings us together, she did none of those.”
The union argues that defunding the police will cause more extended responses to emergencies as well as producing backups of cases. Many departments could also lose their sexual assault investigations unit.
“I think there should be absolutely a national use of force police standard implemented in this country, so everybody and everyone knows what that standard is,” Harris told Fox News.
Several other cities throughout the country have announced changes to change law enforcement and defund police departments, such as Minneapolis and New York.