Changes to LAPD budget get first hearing at City Hall

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LAPD officers assemble to disperse demonstrators rallying in downtown LA against police violence and the recent killing of George Floyd. Credit: Brian Feinzimer for KCRW.

For the first time since nationwide protests erupted over police brutality, local elected officials in Los Angeles are set to vote later today on changes to the LAPD’s budget for the next fiscal year. 

The LA City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee will review a motion to redirect at least $100-$150 million from policing to programs that support disadvantaged communities and communities of color. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti made that proposal during a recent press conference and codified it in his 2020-2021 budget.

The idea has been seen as a starting point by local civil rights activists, including Melina Abdullah, organizer with Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles. But in a June 1 interview with KCRW, she said Garcetti’s proposal does not go nearly far enough to address systemic racism.

“The people of Los Angeles … don't want to keep spending massive amounts of money on police,” Abdullah said. “We're slashing things like access to housing … after school programs, we need to be investing in those things.”

Abdullah referenced a survey that Black Lives Matter conducted in which respondents said they wanted to spend 5.7 percent of the city’s budget on policing. The survey took the pulse of some 2,000 residents, Abdullah said.

The amount is light years away from what is currently proposed for the LAPD in Mayor Garcetti’s budget plan, roughly $1.8 billion during the next fiscal year. The department receives, by far, more money than any other city agency.

While members of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee have expressed support for protesters — and plans to reallocate some funds from the police — they have stopped well short of meeting the demands of demonstrators. 

“If the proposed budget for LAPD is reduced, I want to understand what the impact is,” said LA City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield during last week’s committee meeting. “I don’t want us to achieve false savings.”

To listen to today’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting, click here.

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