LOS Angeles’ City Council has approved the first step toward replacing the police department with community-based, unarmed emergency responders for non-violent calls.
The move was described as a “dawn of a new era of public safety” for the city’s residents and is in response to widespread protests to defund police.
“This won’t solve all of our problems right away,” said council member Herb Wesson, who co-authored the motion.
“But this move marks a sea change in our city’s approach to public safety and I’m optimistic cities and counties across the nation will follow our lead.
“This is the dawn of a new era of public safety in Los Angeles,” he continued, in a statement posted on Twitter.
“The bottom line is that the way things have been going is not working for our communities. This last month has made that crystal clear. We have a responsibility to listen to our people, and our people have spoken.”
Demonstrators raise their hands as they wait for LAPD officers to detain them during a protest in response to the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd[/caption]
With black ribbons across their badge and holding a gun, police recruits attend their graduation ceremony at LAPD Headquarters[/caption]
Wesson added he looked forward to continuing to work alongside LA’s Black Lives Matter chapter.
He introduced the motion on June 16, announcing: “Today I, alongside my colleagues, will introduce a motion to replace LAPD officers with unarmed, non-law enforcement agencies who will be responsible for responding to non-violent calls for service.
“We need to reimagine public safety in the 21st century. One which reduces the need for armed police presence, especially when the situation does not necessarily require it.
“We have gone from asking the police to be part of the solution, to being the only solution for problems they should not be called on to solve in the first place.”
Gabrielle Datau, center, holds a protest sign during a march with the L.A. Tenants Union [/caption]
The motion, introduced by Wesson and council president Nury Martinez, instructs the LAPD to work with the county’s Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and other government agencies to respond to non-violent incidents, such as drug abuse and incidents related to mental health.
It would include diverting nonviolent calls for services, such as neighbor disputes and others from the LAPD to the appropriate non-law-enforcement agencies.
The news came as New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio said he would cut $1 billion in funding from the New York Police Department for 2021.
The cuts were described as not going far enough by some activists, and come in the face of calls to defund the police, as well as a $9 billion revenue shortfall for the city, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The mayor had initially planned to cut NYPD funding by less than 1 percent, while slashing youth services.
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But thousands of protesters have been camped outside City Hall for the past week, demanding deeper cuts to police funding.
“It’s time to do the work of reform, to think deeply about where our police have to be in the future,” de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday.
In both NYC and LA, protests have been ongoing in an attempt to pressure officials to defund – or at least overhaul – police departments, following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in police custody.