By Eric Heinz, City News Service
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Mayor Eric Garcetti said tonight he will not authorize an increase of the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year and is temporarily prohibiting officers from entering names into a statewide gang database.
“To the men and women of our Los Angeles Police Department, we ask so much of you, and never more than in these days,” Garcetti said.
“All of us, every single one of us, are making a sacrifice. This is not on your shoulders alone. COVID-19 has given us the worst economy in our lives, a pandemic and a health crisis. And now… we need to find resources to address what you often have to deal with on the streets.”
Garcetti said he will ask City Administrative Officer Richard Llewellyn to reallocate $250 million from the city’s proposed 2020-21 budget to black communities to address health and education issues, but did not provide specific examples.
Neither healthcare nor education are handled by the city government. Healthcare is a function of county government while education comes under the auspices of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The cuts come from all departments, including the LAPD, Garcetti said.
The LAPD operating budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year is proposed to be nearly $1.86 billion, an increase of about $122 million from the 2019-20 fiscal year budget.
Police Commission President Eileen Decker, who joined Garcetti in his police protests update, said the commission will put a moratorium on the LAPD entering names into the CalGang database, the statewide system that tracks people who may be affiliated with gangs.
LAPD is investigating its alleged misuse of CalGang, after it was announced in January that a teenager was entered into the system when he had no gang affiliations.
Decker also announced the Police Commission will use an independent prosecutor — one from outside the District Attorney’s Office — to handle disciplinary matters pertaining to officers, and she said the commission will seek to cut the $100 million to $150 million from its proposed budget for the next fiscal year, a reduction the City Council proposed earlier on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, which represents the department’s rank-and-file officers, released a statement late afternoon Wednesday criticizing the City Council’s action.
“We expressed our genuine disgust and outrage at the murder of George Floyd,” the board stated. “We’ve advocated for the overhaul of use-of-force training and policies across the state. We have been a willing partner each and every time a city leader has asked us to come to the table and provide solutions.”
Floyd died May 25 after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis Police Department officer, Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on the 46-year-old black man’s neck for several minutes while three other officers looked on.
Video footage of the arrest, in which Floyd is heard saying “I can’t breathe,” spread widely online, and all four officers were fired.
Floyd’s death sparked protests and unrest across the nation.
“We have proven that we can step up and tackle the challenges this city faces collaboratively. We deserved to be treated better than political cover for a politician looking to blame instead of working together,” the board stated, referring to Council President Nury Martinez, who co-authored the budget cut proposal with council members Herb Wesson, Curren Price and Monica Rodriguez.
Police commissioners said on Tuesday they will look to change policies to require officers to report misconduct of other police officers as soon as they identify it and require them to be more involved with residents in the areas they patrol.
“We will move forward with our community, our Los Angeles, to ensure that we start the healing process for everyone and ensure the fundamental principles of fairness, equity and dignity are available to every Angeleno, not just some,” Decker said.
Garcetti said the Civil and Human Rights Commission will hold its first meeting “as soon as late next week.” The Civil and Human Rights Department announced its first executive director, Capri Maddox, in February.
The department is intended to address inequalities and discrimination in Los Angeles and seek to address those matters by enforcing the Civil and Human Rights Ordinance.
“…We aren’t just putting the work of moving forward on the shoulders of activists or of African Americans or police officers. It’s on those of us who have been elected to represent you to step up to this moment,” Garcetti said.
“We cannot just be anti-violence. We have to be pro-humanity.”
Curfews will no longer be issued after Wednesday night, Garcetti said, as long as there isn’t any additional looting or acts of violence in Los Angeles associated with the protests.
“We are at a moment which we should all demand more of each other,” Garcetti said. “You certainly demanded more of me, and I’ve heard you.”
While Garcetti spoke, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 in Searles Valley in San Bernardino County led to some shaking in the Southland, but there were no immediate reports of damage.
“I was just informed, too, that we just had a large earthquake, as if things couldn’t get worse,” Garcetti said. “Our hearts and our activities will go to support everybody in San Bernardino. We’re still assessing to see what that sort of damage there is.”