On June 3, the Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion to cut $100-150 million from the city police department budget. The council cited the week’s protests in the name of Black citizens like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. The motion said that “A city’s budget is a reflection of a government’s values, principles and priorities.”
On Friday, Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters that he would be directing $250 million of the city’s budget towards “youth jobs, health initiatives and ‘peace centers’ to heal trauma, and will allow those who have suffered discrimination to collect damages.” City Council President Nury Martinez and the new Police Commission president acknowledged that up to $150 million of that money would come from the LAPD.
The Los Angeles Times reports that in April, Garcetti’s office put forward a budget proposal that would have increased the Los Angeles Police Department’s funding by 7%. On June 4, Garcetti spoke to religious leaders in the community, telling them he had heard from other local leaders across the country, some of whom were excited by Garcetti’s statement of intent. Others: not so much.
The Los Angeles Police Union is obviously not a fan of this since budget cuts potentially affect their members’ salaries and jobs. Sgt. Jeretta Sanchez, vice president of the police union, told a Los Angeles CBS local news station, “It’s not right. First of all, civilians are going on furlough because you didn’t have money, now you’re finding the money to give $250 million to Black Lives Matter?”
The union is now focusing on a statement Garcetti made during that speech to religious leaders, where he explained his decision to cut the police department’s budget. “It starts someplace, and we say we are going to be who we want to be or we’re going to continue being the killers that we are.” The plural noun “killers” has been quickly taken to mean every police officer, according to Jamie McBride, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, who said Garcetti had “smeared every single police officer in Los Angeles and across the nation.”
McBride should probably go and view the now-hundreds of hours of video logging violence perpetrated against people of color by law enforcement. He should probably sit down and read the reports on Black citizens like Breonna Taylor or Tamir Rice who were killed by police officers. As more and more people call for cutting back on law enforcement budgets, McBride’s anger becomes less and less provocative.
A step I would like to see, personally, is having police pensions tied to payouts of wrongful death lawsuits and other civil rights lawsuits. If municipalities attached that kind of monetary damage to the behavior of a few “bad apples,” I can promise you the police union’s No. 1 job would become getting rid of those bad apples instead of protecting them.
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