As protesters fill the streets of LA, pushing for racial justice and an end to police violence, one of the changes they’re calling for is to cut the budget of the LA police department. They say some of that money should be allocated to other needs, like housing and public schools.
LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin tells KCRW that he supports that agenda: “What we are seeing on the streets, this fury and anger and impatience about structural and institutional racism, demands that we do things differently.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed budget directs $1.8 billion to the LAPD, a significant increase over this year. Virtually every other city department is facing budget cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The City Council allowed the mayor’s budget to take effect this month without a vote, but changes can still be made.
Bonin says some money slated for police should go to social programs that address racial and economic inequality.
“We need to drastically reprioritize to meet the demands, the dual demands of this moment, of both the pandemic we’re in and the civil unrest,” he says.
The union representing LA rank-and-file LAPD officers says shifting money away from police will lead to more crime throughout the city.
Bonin calls that “hyperbole.” He says that most of the increased funding for the LAPD comes in the form of salary increases. He says the budget proposal actually calls for cutting neighborhood patrols.