LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles City Council took its first step in defunding the L.A. Police Department Tuesday, voting to cut the agency’s budget by up to $150 million at a virtual meeting.
The vote comes one day after Chief Michel Moore said the department would stop paying overtime for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
“You need to defund the police,” one person said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “A million dollars in cuts won’t do it and we won’t get out of the streets until you cut it down by billions.”
“We will replace all of you, and we will end your political careers unless you enact the People’s Budget,” another person said.
Moments later, the council voted 11-3 to begin the process of cutting the department’s budget by up to $150 million — funds that will instead be invested in communities of color.
“I don’t believe in cutting LAPD funding,” Councilmember Joe Buscaino said. “I believe in reprioritizing the funding.”
Buscaino, along with Paul Koretz and John Lee, voted against the measure.
Buscaino said he believes the answer was investing more money into team policing, which has been implemented in his district of Watts.
“It’s building trust, it’s reduced crime and it’s built that faith between the officers and the community,” he said.
Councilmember Herb Wesson voted for the police cuts and proposed a motion that would replace LAPD officers with unarmed, non-law enforcement agencies who would respond to non-violent calls for service.
“Most importantly, we have to listen to our bosses, which are the people,” he said. “Not only will you get individuals that have been trained to deal with these types of things, the important thing is that we will get them at a cost effective price.”
But with all of the measures designed to redistribute funding previously earmarked for the department to other agencies and community programs, Los Angeles Police Protective League Director Hannu Tarjamo said morale at the department was low.
“We feel like a lot of the, well, most city leaders have turned their backs on law enforcement,” Tarjamo said. “But this is definitely the worst I have seen in 23 years. It’s very disheartening.”
The department also said it was concerned about future recruitment efforts.