By Grace Rodriguez
In a surprising turn of events, Mayor Eric Garcetti is taking back his decision to cut the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget made last July.
While at surface-level the decision can be seen as a direct opposition to the protesters who believe police are overfunded, it is a smart decision on the mayor’s behalf. The budget is meant to address two main issues, a decreasing police force and a rise in crime.
The original decision to cut funds was a direct response to the George Floyd case that was being protested at the time.
However, on April 19 he released his proposal to ‘right’ this decision by increasing the budget for the LAPD by 3% after there was an increase in crime.
In his State of the City Address, Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed a program called Therapeutic Unarmed Response to Neighborhoods (TURN).
He claimed this program is the way to reform police and lessen LAPDs involvement in non-violent crimes. While the program brings in a new idea to address the issues with an overly-aggressive police force.
This is not the best way to address it financially. This program does not need to be a stand-alone program taking up more money.
Officers can do the proposed work this program sets out to do. Regular officers have the ability to leave their weapons when responding to non-violent crimes.
If the budget is already going to be increased, why not use the funds to better train the officers so they will be able to do this work too, instead of using funds to bring in “experts”?
The entire point of the program is to keep weapons out of nonviolent crimes, and there is an entire fleet of officers that can easily take this on. Furthermore, Garcetti has been criticized for not following through on previous speeches.
Angelinos will have to wait and see exactly how this will be enacted starting July 1.Garcetti has attributed his proposal to increase the LAPD budget to not only the rise in crime, but also a decreasing police force.
While it is a good decision, considering he is addressing a foreseeable issue, this does not make it any less of a tone-deaf decision. It would have been much better received if it came at a better time.
The so-called “justice budget” comes the same week the Derek Chauvin verdict was announced.
A jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts in the murder of George Floyd in the state of Minnesota.
The result of this case has apparently signaled more officers to consider retirement or resignations. Therefore, the number of police officers is projected to change in the
upcoming months, showcasing the impact of this case.
The budget increase could be put to good use and be more widely accepted if he called for the extra funds to reinforce better training in existing officers, especially since so many new recruits are expected.
Although major police brutality cases have not recently hit home, the Minnesota trial can be used as an example for what existing systems can do to better enforce the safety of its citizens— especially one as big as the LAPD.
While the verdict has unfortunately become a source of division between officers and citizens, in reality, it should be used to pinpoint all of the weak points in law enforcement.
More importantly, it should be used to gauge where the disconnect between training and application is happening.
Garcetti said in his speech that acknowledging previous wrongdoing is the only way Angelinos can move forward in amending their decisions.
He should therefore be held accountable in ensuring the funds are put to good use— further than simply going into the recruitment of more police.
For those who followed the Derek Chauvin trial, it was shocking to see the prosecutor, Steve Sleicher, expose just how easy it is to manipulate police reports because there is a tendency to trust those with a badge.
He also exposed the lack of accountability from fellow police officers to intervene when a partner is not doing the right thing. The case should be used as a precedent to ensure future cases like this one never exist in the city of Los Angeles.
Overall, the issue is not whether or not the LAPD deserves extra funds but more so that it is the mayor’s duty to ensure the funds are used in the department in a way that preserves safety and taxpayers’ money, not just the department’s fleet of officers.
The mayor should also be held accountable to enact his proposed program TURN starting July.
Most relevant to students is the reminder that the Freedom of Information Act, along with the First Amendment, have allowed regular citizens to hold people with power accountable.
Citizens should be able to put their trust in LAPD officers who are ultimately there to protect and serve.
The best way to ensure this is by pressing for the mayor and the LAPD to remain transparent in the future and sharing how resources are being used.