Parolee Realignment: Fewer Police To Patrol L.A. Streets

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday that he will move 150 police officers from street patrol duty to parolee supervision in order to cope with the state's parolee realignment plan.

With no funding from the state, the city of Los Angeles alone will take on the responsibility of managing 47 percent of the county's incoming ex-felons. Additionally, new offenders will report to county jails, rather than state prisons.

Because the city will not receive money to deal with the added responsibility, Beck said he has had to shift internal resources, which may negatively impact public safety.

"So 911 calls will take longer to answer, reports will take longer to write," Beck said.

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The 150 patrol officers that will "come right out of the streets of Los Angeles," is the equivalent of half of one patrol division, Beck said.

The police chief, along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other city leaders, urged Gov. Jerry Brown in a news conference Monday to take note and fund Los Angeles' particular burden of receiving the most parolee responsibility of all California cities.

"The idea that there's not a penny for this city, or any other cities, makes no sense," Villaraigosa said.

Despite the urgent pleas to fund Los Angeles' public safety needs, Villaraigosa was unclear on what amount of funding the city needs to adequately fulfill the demands. He provided the example that the County is short on inmate beds and about $35 million in need.

City officials shared their concerns that strained resources may lead to inadequate public safety and increased crime. City Councilman Mitch Englander noted California's 70 percent recidivism rate.

"It creates a threat to our local neighborhoods and families. This is not realignment of services," he said. "We should call it what it is: a derailment."

Villaraigosa said he spoke with the governor over the weekend about the city's concern. A November ballot measure is planned to address the funding issue, but Los Angeles city officials said the gesture is too little too late.

"We often talk about what will be the final straw that breaks the back of public safety. Let me put forward that this is not a straw," Beck said. "It's a load of hay, and it came from Sacramento, and it's landing on Los Angeles."

Raquel Estupinan is a graduate student at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which has partnered with KCET-TV to produce this blog about policy in Los Angeles.

The photo used on this post is by Flickr user stevelyon. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

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