(Natural News) Los Angeles City Council has voted to create a pilot program that will now send “unarmed response teams” to many of the nonviolent calls that are currently handled by police officers. Council voted to enact the program by a margin of 14 to 0.
Council President Nury Martinez said: “Through this unarmed response pilot for non-violent calls, we will help Angelenos get the mental health and other support services they need from trained professionals. We will also free up police officers to do the work they are trained to do.”
She added: “Ultimately, this will also allow us to provide our Black and Brown communities with the resources they deserve.”
Next, the council plans to issue a proposal that will see a nonprofit partner putting a pilot program in place and seeking recommendations from the relevant departments on developing a new classification for city employees who would be tasked with responding to non-violent calls.
These would include calls related to substance abuse, people threatening to kill themselves, and other mental health issues. In addition, calls relating to people in states of “behavioral distress,” welfare checks and conflict resolution issues will no longer be handled by police.
The move is clearly a political one. It simply makes no sense not to send police to these types of 911 calls in Los Angeles, a city that is known for its significant homeless population, many of whom are on drugs and/or mentally ill. Don’t they understand that many people are in states of behavioral distress before they commit violent crimes like rape and murder? How many times has a situation that began with a welfare check or mental health issue ended up becoming a tragedy?
The council appears to be less concerned about public safety and more interested in appearing “woke.” District 10 Councilman Herb Wesson said he was proud of his colleagues for voting in favor of the measure and said that had the police not been called on George Floyd when he tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, he may still be alive today – never mind the fact that he was high on a potentially fatal dose of opioids at the time.
City council recently cut more than $150 million from LAPD budget
In June, the city council voted to cut more than $150 million from the LAPD’s budget as activists continued their calls to “defund the police.” According to the Los Angeles Times, the move brings the number of sworn officers in the city well below 10,000, which is a staffing level the city hasn’t seen since 2008. Much of the LAPD’s budget hit will come from funds that were destined for overtime pay for police officers.
According to Councilman Curren Price, two thirds of the savings will be funneled into services geared toward black, Latino and disenfranchised communities, including summer youth jobs and hiring programs.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who was one of the two opposing votes in the 12-to-2 decision, said that he would have liked the city to approve more funding for a community policing program instead of a “reactive, feel-good budget cut.”
The move represents a dramatic shift from April, when L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was pushing to raise the LAPD’s budget by seven percent. When running for mayor in 2013, Garcetti promised to preserve the city’s 10,000-officer staffing level. The new budget will allow the department to only hire half of the officers needed to replace those retiring or resigning in the coming year.
Sadly, the decisions to cut police funding and avoid sending armed officers on certain types of calls could well lead to even more deaths. It will be interesting to see how many people will be willing to sign up for the job of joining these unarmed response teams to nonviolent calls that could easily escalate into something far more dangerous with no good way of defending themselves.
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