(Natural News) The Los Angeles City Council approved a measure on July 1 to reduce the budget of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) by $150 million, starting in the city’s 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The city council, composed of 14 Democrats and one independent, voted 12-2 to slash the police budget. This austerity measure reduces the number of officers by 231, down to a 12-year record low of 9,757 by the summer of 2021. Los Angeles already has one of the worst ratios of police officers to residents of any major city in the United States – the staffing cuts can only worsen the city’s crime situation.
City officials say that, while their decision was partly influenced by the demands of demonstrators to reduce police spending, their main reason for slashing the LAPD’s budget is because of falling tax revenue caused by the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The city’s budget experts have warned that, without massive spending cuts across the board, the city could find itself short of anywhere between $45 million to $409 million.
The budget measure states that the unused police funds need to be reinvested “back into disadvantaged communities and communities of color.” Democratic Councilman Curren Price, Jr., who introduced the cut, said that around $100 million of the money taken from the police will be given back to the city’s Black and Latino communities.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, another Democrat, further specified that the money would be spent on jobs, education and “healing.” (Related: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan proposes SLASHING the Seattle Police Department’s budget by $20 million – tells police to expect deeper cuts in the future.)
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LA chapter of Black Lives Matter not satisfied with budget cut
The Black Lives Matter chapter in Los Angeles says that the $150 million cut falls short of their demands. BLM and their allies have been pushing for a “People’s Budget” that would defund no less than 90 percent of the LAPD’s budget and redirect the money taken from them to social safety services such as housing and mental healthcare. Garcetti has made known his opposition to this massive budget cut.
Before the proposed budget cut, the LAPD was going to receive an operating budget of around $1.86 billion. Now, they will have to make do with a $1.71 billion budget.
“This is literally pocket change,” said Rebecca Kessler, a resident of the Van Nuys neighborhood in northern Los Angeles. Kessler called in to the council’s meeting to express her discontent. “It’s a slap in the face. You need to defund the police, take away more money, put way more money into these programs.”
While many activists were not satisfied with the cut, some believe that it can be a stepping stone for deeper cuts in the future.
Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter’s Los Angeles chapter, said that the rollback in police functions brought about by the reduced spending might have a greater impact on their cause than the budget cut alone.
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