Los Angeles City Council approves $150million budget cut from the LAPD

Los Angeles City Council approves $150million budget cut from the LAPD that would hit overtime pay and reduce the number of staff by 2,000

  • The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-2 to cut $150million from the Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday
  • The cut reportedly affects LAPD hiring and overtime pay
  • There will reportedly be 9,757 officers by next summer, making it the department’s lowest staffing level since 2008
  • Overtime cuts will amass to around $97million from the LAPD budget 
  • Only Councilmen John Lee and Joe Buscaino opposed the budget cut 
  • Law enforcement has been criticized for excessive force and police brutality in the weeks since George Floyd’s death
  • The NYPD budget was slashed by $1billion on Tuesday and the Minneapolis Police Department was abolished 

The Los Angeles City Council voted to cut the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget by $150million.

The City Council approved the massive budget slash in a near landslide victory of 12-2 on Wednesday in the latest blow dealt to police forces.

It will affect overtime pay and reduce the number of employees to the lowest level in 12 years.

New York City’s police budget was just given a billion dollar slash and the police department in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed two months ago, was abolished by its city council. 

The Los Angeles Times reports that the department’s hiring took the hit, plummeting the number of officers to just 9,757 by next summer. 

The Los Angeles City Council approved a $150million budget cut in a 12-2 vote on Wednesday as law enforcement is increasingly criticized 

It is the lowest level of staffing at the LAPD has seen since 2008. 

At the moment, there are approximately 9,000 sworn officers and 3,000 civilian employees with the department,   

Overtime pay also took a large swipe in the budget slash, with around $97million being removed. 

City policy analysts and council members warned that at least part of those overtime hours could end up being worked by the department, especially in the event of a major emergency.

In those cases, the department could ‘bank’ the overtime by letting officers work the hours but delay payment for a future year. This would allow officers to be paid for those hours with higher salaries.

Councilman Curren Price said two-thirds of the money saved would be diverted to social services for Black, Latino and other communities. 

The entirety of the 2020-2021 Los Angeles city budget is around 10.5billion,according to KCAL 9.  

The $150million slash represents eight per cent of the almost $1.8billion operating budget that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed this year.  

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (pictured) previously vowed to keep officer levels at the LAPD high, but appeared to waver as calls to defund the budget mounted 

The LAPD has been publicly scrutinized by politicians and civilians as protests over police brutality continue nationwide 

‘This is a step forward, supporting minority communities in ways in which they deserve — with respect, dignity and an even playing field,’ said Price, the only Black member of the budget committee.

Maintaining a 10,000-officer staff had been a goal of Los Angeles officials after the department reached that number for the first time in 2013.

At the time, Garcetti was running for mayoral office and vowed to keep staffing levels high. 

The only opposing votes came from Councilman John Lee, a former Republican, and Joe Buscaino, a Democrat and former police officer. 

Democrats in the City Council overwhelmingly backed the budget cut. 

Buscaino wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Daily News on Monday that argued police budget cuts would not spark a culture change in the force.  

Instead, he suggested pouring more money into the city’s Community Safety Partnership, a program meant to foster relationship between authorities and residents in certain housing communities.

Councilmen Joe Buscaino and John Lee (left and right) were the only members to veto Wednesday’s vote 

‘We should and we must invest in communities of color, but that task becomes exponentially harder when we are cutting slices of the budget from a smaller and smaller pie,’ wrote Buscaino.

‘If we want real reform, and not just a reactive, feel-good budget cut, we need to invest in the long term plan. 

‘And I believe the best option we have for making the quickest changes that will have the most impact is to expand the Community Safety Partnership.’

Wednesday’s vote is another example of how much views, and subsequently policies, have changed since protests have sparked across the country after the death of George Floyd. 

In fact, Garcetti was pushing for a seven per cent increase to the LAPD budget as recently as April. 

But activists with Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles said the budget cut is ‘literally pocket change.’

‘It’s a slap in the face. You need to defund the police, take way more money, put way more money into these programs,’ Rebecca Kessler told The Los Angeles Times.

The group had supported the ‘People’s Budget,’ a plan that eliminates police spending and diverts funds to social services like mental health care. 

Pictured: Payton Martin (center) joins members of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and their supporters during a demonstration to demand that the Board of Education defund school police, reallocating funds to other student-serving initiatives

Rebecca Kessler: ‘It’s a slap in the face. You need to defund the police, take way more money, put way more money into these programs’

Protesters calling to defund the Los Angeles Police Department have staged demonstrations at city meetings. 

Council members have discussed ways of redirecting nonviolent 911 calls away from the LAPD and to other officials. 

A vote this week saw council members direct city staffers to create an ‘unarmed model of crisis response’ for review. 

Supporters like Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah lauded the move.

‘Rolling back police functions has the potential to have a far greater impact on advancing the call to defund the police than approving a meager cut of $150 million,’ she said. 

Pictured: The LAPD arrive to arrests protesters for curfew violation after a day of peaceful protest against police brutality and to demonstrate in Los Angeles

Others wondered if large budget cuts would encourage more crime in neighborhoods.

‘Without any enforcement, [crime] is going to get worse,’ said resident Ray Rios. ‘The big question is, who’s going to keep order?’

Rios, the president of the Hillside Village Property Owners Assn. in El Sereno, said his community has been hit with a series of illegal fireworks and car break-ins. 

He said the officials should focus on reforming the department, not chipping away at its staff. 

The debate over law enforcement has occurred over the backdrop of a coronavirus case surge in California – worrying budget analysts who previously warned that the pandemic negatively affected the city’s finances.

If not careful, Los Angeles could reportedly fall $45million to $409million as tax revenues descend below projections.   

Council members on Tuesday passed a plan to encourage some 2,850 civilian city employees into retirement to save money. 

A buyout package will offer up to $80,000 and employees can begin applying for the payments next week.

Maintaining a 10,000-officer staff had been a goal of Los Angeles officials after the department reached that number for the first time in 2013

Pictured: A protester speaks with an LAPD officer during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd in Hollywood, California 

If all eligible staffers commit to the retirement plan, Los Angeles could save $58.7million this year and $125million from 2021-2022. 

On the other hand, the city would have to spend $28.5million on buyout packages this year – or $10,000 per employee. 

Councilman Paul Krekorian said $40million of the LAPD budget cut will be made into an ‘insurance policy’ to help cover the cost of city services of the retirement plan doesn’t generate enough money. 

The retirement plan was also seen as another way to avoid furloughing almost 16,000 city workers.   

Several other police departments have faced a reckoning as the country re-examines its law enforcement and racism.

On Tuesday, New York City officials voted to remove $1billion from the city’s police force budget.

Unrest continues: Protesters chanted slogans during a protest to defund the NYPD in a place they are calling the ‘City Hall Autonomous Zone’, ahead of Tuesday’s vote

A protester in front of the Second Precinct Police Station in Minneapolis on Thursday holds a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ placard. The Minneapolis city council is set to take the first step toward banning the police department

The contentious budget passed with 32 votes in favor and an unusually large 17 votes against just ahead of the midnight deadline following hours of delays – leading to criticism from all sides.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a representative for parts of the Bronx and Queens, said the policing cut amounts to ‘funny math’ and does not go far enough in reducing the force’s $6billion annual budget – which activists want to reinvest in community services instead.  

But council member I. Daneek Miller, co-chairman of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, bitterly opposed the move, saying it makes no sense to cut funding at a time when crime is on the rise. 

Mayor Bill De Blasio has warned that 22,000 city employees may lose their jobs come October, when a new class of police officers is due to start training despite Tuesday’s cut, if other savings cannot be found.

People march in the street during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis City Council voted 12-0 to abolish to police force after Floyd’s death and weeks of protests. 

George Floyd, 46, died in police custody after a white police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. 

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that faces significant bureaucratic obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. 

And it came amid a spate of recent shootings in Minnesota’s largest city that have heightened many citizens´ concerns about talk of dismantling the department.

The proposed amendment next goes to a policy committee and to the city’s Charter Commission for a formal review, at which point citizens and city officials can also weigh in.

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