Amid a movement to defund the Los Angeles Police Department by 90%, the Los Angeles City Council Budget and Finance Committee approved a budget proposal to slash the Department’s budget by $150 million dollars.
City, activists, and police disagree on the 2020-2021 budget for the LAPD
While the proposal will now go to the full city council for a report on how the cut would affect basic police services in Los Angeles, a counter proposal called People’s Budget LA wants even more drastic cuts.
Under the proposed cuts on Monday, the original proposed hike of LAPD funding from $1.189 billion to $1.86 billion would ultimately see a cut of around $150 million. Under the People’s Budget LA proposal, a 90% cut to the LAPD would free funds to be used in alternatives to policing, such as housing, healthcare, mental health, and other social programs.
People’s Budget LA, backed by groups such as Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles (BLM-LA), sent their proposal to the city and presented their ideas on Monday. BLM-LA leaders pushed heavily for People’s Budget.
“We don’t want to have to constantly have to hold your feet to the fire,” said Melina Abdullah, founder of BLM-LA. “What we would love is for you to step out, be bold, be courageous.”
The Mayor and Council members gave a lukewarm response to the proposal but have yet to pledge any major action in line with the proposal, especially after the city has already furloughed many city employees and is figuring out what to do with the rest of the revenue-reduced city budget.
Mayor Eric Garcetti gave a single tweet to the proposal on Monday, saying “I thank the People’s Budget LA for your strong presentation to the City Council today. I will continue to work with my colleagues on the City Council to further invest in the needs of our communities to create lasting change.”
I thank the People's Budget LA for your strong presentation to the City Council today. I will continue to work with my colleagues on the City Council to further invest in the needs of our communities to create lasting change.
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) June 15, 2020
New proposals by city council members and police unions
The biggest proposal change happened Tuesday when City Councilman Herb Wesson and Council President Nury Martinez introduced a motion to create a crisis response team that would respond to non-violent calls and work with mental health, homeless, and other city services to respond accordingly.
“Today I, alongside my colleagues, will introduce a motion to replace LAPD officers with unarmed, non-law enforcement agencies who will be responsible for responding to non-violent calls for service,” noted Councilman Wesson on Instagram. “We need to reimagine public safety in the 21st century. One which reduces the need for armed police presence, especially when the situation does not necessarily require it.”
While many police officers and police unions have been against funding and lowering police budgets, especially in the wake of the coronavirus and social unrest, some law enforcement officers have noted a need in dealing with largely non-violent or frivolous calls to the police.
“Any cop will tell you stories of the ridiculous things people have called the police over,” told former police officer Eric Kenner to the California Globe. “People calling the police over wrong fast food orders or neighbor disputes over planting grass seed. Police officers shouldn’t have to take calls over things like these. We should only go if things escalate.
I am not for defunding, but in this situation I can definitely see the need for another layer that lets us do our job to protect and serve more. I know of many cops who wish that such a service existed there before.”
The calls for drastically reduced police funding also comes at a time when the LAPD can no longer afford to pay officer overtime due to coronavirus and George Floyd protests eating up the overtime budget.
With more and more pressure against them, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), the LAPD union, countered with their own reforms, such as increased de-escalation tactics and setting up a database of police officers nationwide who have committed wrongdoings while on the job. The LAPPL proposal was made in conjunction with the San Francisco and San Jose police unions, with the hope that all three will eventually have the reforms in their respective cities.
“We know that racism exists in society, and therefore we know that we have some racist police officers amongst our ranks and it’s time for us to try and root those officers out,” explained LAPPL board member Robert Harris.
As of Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council is still weighing all proposals for the LAPD as well as other city services. A budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year is due soon, with the final budget expected to reduce police funding by some degree.