The LA City Council voted Wednesday to slash $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget. The cuts will reduce the number of sworn officers to below 10,000, which is the lowest staff count since 2008. The cuts will also lessen the funds earmarked in the budget for officers’ overtime pay. City Councilmember Curren Price, who represents parts of downtown and South LA, pushed for the cuts. He says two-thirds of the savings will be funneled into services — including hiring programs and summer youth jobs — for Black, Latino and disenfranchised communities.
“We're trying to figure out not just how we reallocate the money, but also how we can help, as I say, reimagine public safety,” Price tells KCRW. “We’re looking at ways to have nonviolent, non-armed responses to nonviolent crisis situations: medical professionals, mental health professionals, homeless professionals being called in to assist.”
Price says that a recent presentation by Black Lives Matter activists on the People’s Budget LA. The proposal aimed to redirect funding for the police department to other community services like housing and services for unhoused people. Price says that protests coupled with ongoing demonstrations in Los Angeles and across the county have influenced him and his colleagues to make a change to the way they do business.
“We're trying to figure out what else we can do to engage the community, work with the community in ways that we haven't before and to be more responsive,” he says. “One way is certainly looking at the responses we've given to the police and making an assessment that, ‘Gee whiz, maybe some of these activities can be handled better by a unarmed professional, not just someone that's got a gun.’”