LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Los Angeles City Council motion introduced Tuesday would create what officials are calling a “nonviolent crisis response team” to replace police officers in responding to certain police calls.
The plan introduced by City Councilman Herb Wesson and Council President Nury Martinez instructs the L.A. Police Department to work with the county’s Department of Mental Health, L.A. Homeless Services Authority and other government agencies to respond to nonviolent incidents, such as drug abuse and incidents related to mental health.
Neighbor disputes and other nonviolent calls for services would be diverted from the LAPD to the relevant non-law enforcement agencies.
“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,” Wesson said.
The move could fundamentally change the operations of the LAPD. Instead of having an officer respond to calls related to nonviolent or non-criminal matters, the call would be diverted to a crisis response team better suited to address the needs of the situation, said councilman Bob Blumenfield.
“Police, they don’t want to be doing social work,” Blumenfield said.
The motion also has the support of leaders within the Black Lives Matter movement, including professor Melina Abdullah who, along with other representatives with the BLM movement, presented the People’s Budget L.A. to five city council members on Monday, including Martinez and Wesson.
“If it’s what it appears to be, it’s absolutely a step in the right direction,” Abdullah said, “and it also indicates that they were willing to listen to the voices of the people, who said that public safety and policing are not synonymous, especially for black Angelenos.”
The People’s Budget L.A. aims to redirect funding from the LAPD to invest in community growth, including education and mental health services.
On Monday, the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee moved forward 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.
Last week, Martinez, who co-introduced the motion, ended her own LAPD security detail following repeated calls by the council to defund the department.