LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee moved forward Monday with a proposal to cut up to $150 million from the L.A. Police Department’s budget in the wake of the George Floyd protests, while community activists presented their idea for more dramatic reductions in law enforcement spending.
The committee voted to send the proposed cuts to the full council, which will consider directing city staff to compile a report that would examine how the reductions could be made without impacting basic policing services.
But supporters of the People’s Budget LA — a proposal developed by a coalition of organizations led by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles — told council members that Los Angeles needed to rethink its community policing.
Their proposal calls on the city to cut LAPD’s budget by 90%, allocating those funds to social services, such as mental health and housing.
“We don’t want to have to constantly have to hold your feet to the fire,” Melina Abdullah, founder of BLM-LA, said. “What we would love is for you to step out, be bold, be courageous.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti — who previously said he would not authorize an increase to the LAPD’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and that the city would find $250 million to invest in communities of color — responded Monday to the People’s Budget LA on Twitter.
“I thank the People’s Budget LA for your strong presentation to the City Council today,” Garcetti said. “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.”
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) – the union which represents LAPD officers – joined the San Jose and San Francisco police unions in unveiling a national reform agenda that they said they hoped would improve relationships between officers and communities.
The proposed reforms include a national use-of-force standard that emphasizes deescalation and a national database of former police officers fired for gross misconduct.
“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,” Robert Harris, a member of the LAPPL board of directors, told CBSLA.
The LAPPL also appeared to be softening its initial stance. Earlier this month, the LAPPL blasted Garcetti’s proposal to slash funding for the LAPD and questioned his mental health.
“Eric has apparently lost his damn mind,” the LAPPL said in a statement June 5 in response to the proposed budget cuts and suggested that if the city had a charter provision allowing the removal of a mayor for illness or incapacity, “we’d plead for it to be invoked.”
In late May, just days prior to the protests that erupted in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Garcetti had approved giving LAPD officers $41 million in bonuses and increasing the department’s budget by more than 7% in the 2020-21 fiscal year despite the fact that that the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic fallout forced him in April to propose furloughing about 15,000 civilian employees due to revenue shortfalls.