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L.A. Council Members Seek to Eliminate at Least $100 Million in Police Budget

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Three City Council members filed a motion today to cut the Los Angeles Police Department's budget by $100 million to $150 million for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The motion was filed by Council President Nury Martinez as well as councilmen Herb Wesson and Curren Price.

"We need to rethink what it is that makes people safer and makes communities stronger. We cannot just look at the police in isolation," the motion stated. "There is no doubt that communities of color suffer disproportionately from negative interactions with the police."

The operating budget of the LAPD is proposed to be nearly $1.86 billion, up about $122 million from last year, but advocates have said, especially due to the financial reckoning of COVID-19, enhancing police spending is not the right move at this time.

"The city of Los Angeles is in the midst of a health and economic pandemic unlike any we have ever seen in our lifetimes," Martinez said. "Following the gruesome murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, we are also in the midst of a social and racial justice crisis of epic proportions, where the good people of Los Angeles as well as the nation are asking their leaders to re-examine our priorities and to commit to taking a giant leap forward in recognizing and ending racism against black Americans."

Martinez said the budget reduction is "just one aspect of change," and that to end racism will take broader and ideological changes.

"Ultimately, we cannot talk about change, we have to be about change," the council president said.

The motion also instructs the City Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst to provide recommendations on reallocating the funds into "disadvantaged communities and communities of color."

"Our only path forward is to dismantle the systems that are designed to harm people of color," Wesson said on Twitter. "A preliminary cut to the LAPD budget will not solve everything, but it's a step toward to being the city we aspire to be."

According to Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso, the city's Office of Finance is anticipating 2021 tax revenues will be a minimum of $45 million short of Mayor Eric Garcetti's proposed budget and could fall short by as much as $400 million, depending upon how quickly the economy recovers.

Some members of Black Lives Matter and other groups, in conjunction with continuing protests over police brutality and officer-involved shootings, have been calling for even more sweeping reductions in LAPD funding.

People's Budget L.A. is a coalition of organizations led by BLM that's been advocating for police funding to be spent on social services, such as housing for homeless people.

However, the People's Budget proposal would reduce LAPD spending to about a tenth of what it is now.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, which represents LAPD officers, said in a statement a reduction in funding that large would be "dangerous."

"Their 'budget' will guarantee that the last several nights of mayhem in Los Angeles will be the new normal,'' the board said in a statement. "Laying off over 9,000 officers will leave just over 900 officers to police our city. It would be a dream come true for gang members and criminals and would expose every single neighborhood in Los Angeles to an unprecedented level of crime."

The City Council's Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to meet June 8, 15, 22 and 29 to make final revisions to the budget before it needs to be adopted and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti on June 30. The 2020-2021 fiscal year begins July 1.

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