Los Angeles City Council moves ahead with plan to replace police officers with community responders for nonviolent calls


Non-violent service calls that police officers often respond to include mental health crises, substance abuse and disputes between neighbors.

The model will be developed by the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) and the City Administrative Officer (CAO), with the assistance of the Los Angeles Police Department and the city's Housing Services Authority, authorities said.

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and other relevant government service providers will also be involved in the development and implementation of the model.

The measure directs the CLA to analyze and report on the programs used at the national and international levels, as well as other models of crisis intervention. He cited CAHOOTS, a community policing association that has been established in Eugene, Oregon, as an example of a program to examine.

"The bottom line is that the way things have gone doesn't work for our communities," Wesson, author of the motion with Council President Nury Martinez, wrote on Twitter.

"This past month has made it very clear. We have a responsibility to listen to our people, and our people have spoken. I look forward to continuing this work alongside @BLMLA," Wesson wrote, referring to Black Lives Matter-LA.

The vote comes after activists in Los Angeles, led by the city's Black Lives Matter chapter, repeated for weeks the same call to action voiced by many across the country after George Floyd's death in May: Evict to the police.

The movement to replace some police officers with trained personnel to respond to crises is a component of the movement. Supporters of eliminating police funds, either by abolishing the police entirely or by reducing their department budgets and reinvesting those funds in education or housing, believe that unarmed workers trained to reduce violence could better serve some members. of the community.

Weeks of activism

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in late May after pleading for help when a Minneapolis police officer used his knee on Floyd's neck to hold him to the ground for more than eight minutes.

Video of the incident came to light and quickly sparked a global movement to demand justice and end police brutality in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, with protests across the country, including in Los Angeles.

On June 15, activists presented a nine-page report called People & # 39; s Budget LA, accompanied by a slide show and a two-hour presentation, in person to city officials.
"We are saying to disburse the police," Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-LA, said in the presentation. "We are also saying to reinvent public security."
A day later, Wesson echoed Abdullah's words in his own statement announcing that he would file a motion to replace LAPD officers "with unarmed, non-police agencies that will be responsible for responding to non-violent service calls."

"We need to reinvent public safety in the 21st century," Wesson said June 16. "One that reduces the need for the presence of the armed police, especially when the situation does not necessarily require it."

Wesson, who was the first black president of the Los Angeles City Council, said police moved from one part of the solution to another part of the problem and that they "may not be better equipped" to respond to situations other than of emergency.

The Los Angeles Police Protection League, a union representing nearly 10,000 sworn employees, told CNN when the motion was proposed that the move to replace some officers could improve outcomes between police and the communities they serve. serving.

"We agree with Councilman Wesson that not all calls that our city leaders have asked us to answer must be a police response," Tom Saggau, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Protection League, told CNN. (LAPPL) in a statement on June 16. .

"We are more than willing to talk about how, or if, we respond to non-criminal and non-emergency calls so that we can free up time to quickly respond to 911 calls, crack down on property and violent crime, and expand our community policing efforts. "

On Tuesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has been criticized by Los Angeles activists amid the movement to dismantle police, praised the city council's plan.

"We must act to reform public security in our communities, and today we have taken an important step forward," he said. tweeted.

National calls to & # 39; disburse the police & # 39;

In recent months, "stripping the police" has become a rallying cry among activists across the United States.

The movement calls for a considerable part of a city's budget, normally designated to finance police departments, to be invested in communities, especially marginalized communities where much of the surveillance occurs.

The concept has been a buzz for years, particularly after protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, though it seemed unlikely in 2014.

Now, local officials have begun to listen to activists' demands, and the change, at least in some areas of the country, seems more likely.

"The world is talking right now," said Abdullah, speaking to members of the City Council in mid-June. "They say we don't want a surveillance system that puts targets especially on the backs of blacks, but is also a regular assailant and traumatizer of our entire community."

Last week, members of the Minneapolis city council, where Floyd was killed, moved to dismantle his police force and replace it with a department of community safety and violence prevention.

"This is one action of many that we must take on the road to a more equitable and fair system that keeps people safe," said board member Jeremiah Ellison.

Police unions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San José released a collective agenda in mid-June calling for national police reform and pledging to eradicate racist officers.

"Unfortunately, there is racism in our communities and that means that throughout our country there are some racist police officers," the unions said in a joint statement. "Police unions must eradicate racism wherever it raises its ugly head and eradicate any racist individual from our profession."

In Los Angeles, Wesson acknowledged that the new plan "will not solve all of our problems right away."

"But this move marks a radical shift in our city's focus on public safety and I am optimistic that cities and counties across the country will follow our example," he said. tweeted

CNN's Alexandra Meeks and Scottie Andrew contributed to this report.


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