A motion to remove LAPD from non-violent service calls was introduced by Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson Jr. Tuesday, and today he further explained the response plan.
In an interview with L.A. Weekly, Wesson said that the motion would allow the opportunity for specialists, experts, law enforcement and Angelenos to give input on how non-emergency situations could be handled in the future.
“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.”
In lieu of law enforcement, these situations would allow for medical professionals, mental health workers, homeless outreach workers and others with specialized training to be called, depending on the situation.
The motion came a day after the council heard the People’s Budget LA speak on their demands to make changes to the LAPD budget and allocate the funds to the “priorities and needs” of Angelenos.
“The world has cracked open, and you all have the opportunity to be courageous and do something different in the city of Los Angeles,” Dr. Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter L.A., said in front of the council Monday.
The organization’s presentation inspired Wesson, along with the other council members who have backed this motion thus far. Where the funding will come from, though is not yet clear.
“I think at this juncture, it’s kind of premature to say, ‘Hey, you take the money from here, or you take the money from there’,” Wesson said. “If you reimagine policing and you take that responsibility away from law enforcement, then they don’t need that money to provide that service.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the motion for responding to non-violent calls, saying, “I will continue to work closely with the City Council on more ways we can improve policing and deliver resources to our communities.”
As far as getting council members to vote on it, there are already six members supporting the motion and Wesson said “at this point it looks good.” If the 15-member council did vote to pass it, Wesson said they would start sessions where they could start accelerating the specifics of how they would go about with this “crisis-response plan.”
“This isn’t something that I think will take a lifetime,” Wesson said.
This is the latest in a slew of law enforcement-related issues that have been proposed by not only Los Angeles County or the state, but even the entire U.S.
An executive order was put out Tuesday by the White House that asked police departments to ban chokeholds, create databases where all agencies can have access to an officer’s on-duty records and have departments certified by independently contracted credentialer.
Before that, the city made changes to the LAPD’s practices, including training in “implicit bias” and de-escalation by intervention.
Tuesday,the council also voted to find ways to cut $150 million of the LAPD’s budget and allocate it to community resources.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League has said they believe those cuts would lead to slower response times and that the city should “invest in better policing, not defund it.”
L.A. Weekly reached out to the LAPD. They had “no response” to the council’s recent motion.