Millions cut from LA’s police budget – ‘redistributed’ to programs in ‘disenfranchised communities’

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to put $100 million, cut from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) budget earlier this year, toward community programs in underserved neighborhoods.

During the summer, city council approved Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recommendation to defund the LAPD by $150 million.

According to CBSLA, $40 million has already been diverted to address the city’s budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic and $10 million went to an “unappropriated account.”

CBSLA also reported that within the remaining $100 million, the city council approved $10 million to fund the Summer Youth Jobs program for children in underserved communities and $1.8 million for a newly created Civil and Human Rights Department.

The remaining $88.2 million will be distributed throughout all 15 Council Districts based on need and income disparity. Council District 9 in South Los Angeles is the highest-need district, and Council District 11 is the lowest-need district.

Referencing the protests against police brutality earlier this year, Council President Nury Martinez told CBSLA:

“This year we saw a national and local call for change in our disenfranchised communities of color.

 “We listened to our black and brown communities as they asked for more resources, the same resources they see in affluent communities and are easy to take for granted unless you’ve had to push a stroller through dirt in the dark, unless you live in a garage and your kids rely on parks as their only play space.”

On Dec. 7th, a key committee of the Los Angeles City Council narrowly approved a proposal for scaling back the number of police department employees whose jobs could be targeted for elimination amid the city’s growing financial crisis.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the council’s Budget and Finance Committee took up a proposal from the city’s top financial analyst to begin preparations for the layoff of as many as 1,900 employees, the vast majority of them at the LAPD.

City Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn previously advised the council members to approve all of his budget-cutting proposals as a single package to ensure they would close a deficit projected to reach $675 million by June 30th, the end of the fiscal year.

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The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing roughly 9,800 LAPD officers, issued a letter calling Llewellyn’s proposal for the LAPD “reckless and unnecessary.” The union also requested that council members use unspent coronavirus relief funding provided by the federal government earlier this year.

It is not clear why Los Angeles has not yet spent money it received from the federal CARES Act, which provided funds to assist the city during the pandemic.

In a letter to the committee, police union president Craig Lally said the cuts would “decimate the LAPD for at least a decade.”

During the virtual meeting, Councilman Paul Krekorian called for his colleagues to scale back that list by nearly two-thirds and find savings elsewhere, perhaps at other city agencies.

Krekorian, who heads the committee, recommended taking the number of sworn officers whose positions were targeted for elimination from 951 down to 355, and the number of civilian positions in the police department from 728 down to 273, according to Los Angeles Times.

Krekorian’s proposal passed on a 3 to 2 vote, with Councilmen Curren Price and Mike Bonin opposed.

Price argued that every city agency needed to take a 3 percent cut, saying the LAPD should not be provided a “different kind of standard” on balancing the budget.

Bonin favored reducing the number of potential layoffs, but only if it was accomplished by making other reductions at the LAPD, and not cutting other agencies, a spokesman told Los Angeles Times.

The committee’s deliberations followed more than an hour of testimony from members of the public who called into the virtual meeting. Several callers pleaded with the committee to shield workers at the LAPD and the city’s animal service department from job cuts.

One resident, Martin Beck, expressed concerns about eliminating hundreds of police officers in a city already experiencing a spike in homicides and shooting victims. He said if 950 police officers are cut from the force, “we’ll have anarchy.”

Beck also said:

“We’ll have such a dangerous city that people will take the law into their own hands, and we don’t want that. We need the police to keep our city safe and secure.” 

 However, other members of the public disagreed and said there should be deeper cuts to LAPD.

According to Los Angeles Times, one caller said police “do not keep us safe,” and another said LAPD just wants “security for themselves because they are of a certain class, a certain race.”

Hollywood resident, Gina Viola, who owns a temporary employment agency, complained:

“They’re called after a crime is committed. They don’t even prevent crimes. They can’t even solve crimes without the financial assistance of the public.”

It will be interesting to see how the city council’s decision to defund and reduce the police will impact the crime rate. Will redistributed funding to underserved communities slash the crime rate more effectively than a robust police department would?

Only time will tell.

In other police-related news, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, has introduced legislation that proposes California police officers would have to get a bachelor’s degree or turn 25 before starting their careers.

Currently, California law allows people to become police officers at age 18 and does not require a college degree.

In a Dec. 7th press release, Jones-Sawyer said the proposed legislation could help reduce the number of times police officers shoot or hurt people.

Jones-Sawyer, who is chairman of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, suggested that people who lack a college degree are prone to a “propensity for violence” unlike college-educated folk. He told ABC7:

“When we look at the data, the data shows when someone is college educated, their propensity for violence, goes way down.”

Jones-Sawyer also implied people are not fully developed or mature until age 25:

“These jobs are complex, they’re difficult, and we should not just hand them over to people who haven’t fully developed themselves.”

 Jones-Sawyer told ABC7 that studies show older or more educated officers are less likely to use excessive force and says the move could also reduce spending for departments on lawsuits.

According to ABC7, 18 other states already have a college education requirement.

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