Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson and Council President Nury Martinez have introduced a motion that would create an alternative to police: a newly developed nonviolent crisis response team. The team would include city or county workers who aren’t police officers that would be dispatched to answer non-criminal emergency calls. Wesson says that the funding and make up are still being figured out.
“There are calls like abandoned vehicles, believe it or not even animal regulation calls, noise calls, homeless calls, where you really don't have to have an armed individual,” Wesson says. “I think that law enforcement, about 80% of their calls are like social service-related and 20% of their calls are law enforcement. Whereas 80% of their training deals with law enforcement, and only 20% of their training deals with social issues. So we want to balance that out.”
The Los Angeles City Council convened a special session this week to hear a coalition of community groups give a presentation on “The People’s Budget.” The proposal would cut funding to the Los Angeles Police Department, and redirect it to education, housing, and health care programs. Wesson credits groups like those behind the People’s Budget with creating an environment for changes can be put forward.
“I think that it's important that we hear from nonprofit organizations like Black Lives Matter, LA Voice,” he says. “We need experts in these fields. We need to hear from law enforcement itself. We'll use our city staff, the voices of other council people and try to craft an apparatus that connects people with the services they need in the most efficient manner.”