The LAPD, L.A. Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles School Police Department all had cuts approved to their 2020-21 budgets this week after vocal calls to defund the police.
In a 12-2 vote, the Los Angeles City Council approved the reallocation of $150 million of the LAPD budget, with council members John Lee and Joe Buscaino accounting for the two “no” votes.
At least $90 million of the budget would go toward the “preservation” of city services, reinvestment in “disadvantaged communities and communities of color” and a Target Local Hire (TLH) program.
Another $10 million would go toward summer programs to “benefit youth from disadvantaged communities and communities of color.”
Councilman Curren Price attributed the divestment to the Black Lives Matter movement, for “changing policing policies would not happen if it hadn’t been for their efforts.”
Black Lives Matter held a protest outside of the L.A. Hall of Justice building, as it has every Wednesday, for weeks. The protests have called for the removal of District Attorney Jackie Lacey, along with calls to “defund the police” and pushing a “People’s Budget,” which was presented in front of L.A. City Council on June 15.
Councilman Lee, who was opposed to the cuts, said that the LAPD had made changes and reform over the years, adding, “Decades ago, our city made a promise to reform LAPD, and that is exactly what we have done.”
The cuts will come on the heels of the council’s Tuesday vote to move forward discussions for Councilman Herb Wesson’s motion to “reimagine public safety.” It called for removing police from nonviolent calls and replacing them with medical professionals, mental health workers, homeless outreach workers and others with specialized training, depending on the situation.
“I think we have an opportunity to reimagine what public safety is all about,” Wesson told us. “I also believe that as we are reimagining how to connect people with the services that they need, there might be a role at some point where’d you have to call in the police department.”
Cuts to the Los Angeles School Police Department
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School Board approved a $25 million budget cut to the LASPD with a 4-3 vote.
As a result of the 35 percent cut to the budget, 65 LASPD officers’ positions could be eliminated throughout the county.
LASPD Chief Todd Chamberlain tendered his resignation Wednesday.
“After humbly serving my communities, departments and personnel over 35 years in law enforcement, I have been placed in a position that makes my ability to effectively, professionally and safely impact those groups unachievable,” Chamberlain said in a statement. “In good conscience, and in fear for safety and well-being of those I serve, I cannot support modifications to my position, the organization and, most importantly, the community (students, staff and families) that I believe will be detrimental and potentially life-threatening.”
After the cuts to school police ACLU senior staff attorney Victor Leung tweeted out, “Hey LA School Police, reducing your budget by $25 million was just the beginning.”
Hey LA School Police, reducing your budget by $25 million was just the beginning @LA_StudentsDsrv @BLMLA @BrosSonsSelves @CoCoSouthLA @ICSEastLA @CADREparents @FightSoulCities @YouthJusticeLA are coming back for everything. #PoliceFreeSchools pic.twitter.com/lbhtNcmh82
— Victor Leung (@VictorACLU) July 1, 2020
Cuts to the Sheriff’s Department
On Monday, as the Board of Supervisors approved a $34.9 billion budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, a cut of $145.4 million was made the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
“The board has the ability to fund all of the county government operations, and they need to prioritize public safety,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a press conference Monday.
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) June 28, 2020
Villanueva then stated that the Special Victims Bureau, the Safe Streets Bureau that deals with gang-related crimes, the Major Crimes Bureau and Cyber Crimes Bureau, would all be directly affected by the proposed cuts.
“Who in their right minds would propose eliminating the Special Victims Bureau?” Vullanueva said. “This is the… unit that investigates crimes against children. They investigate sexual assaults. There’s no more vulnerable population than the victims of sex crimes.”
Villanueva has been very vocal about the proposed cuts to law enforcement over that last month, saying on the L.A. Weekly Weekly Podcast, “I think the movement to defund the police is irresponsible. I think it’s dangerous.”
The public calls for police reform, cuts and defunding have came after the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and other African Americans across the nation at the hands of law enforcement. As protests were sparked nationwide, Los Angeles residents have held rallies, marches and demonstrations almost daily since Floyd’s death.