In a stunning turn of policy, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced several policy changes meant to answer concerns over police brutality that have been raised by protesters over the last week.
Garcetti said he would not authorize an increase to the Los Angeles Police Department's budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
“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 to reallocate $250 million from the city's proposed budget to black communities to help address health and education issues. The mayor did not specify which programs would receive the proposed monies as neither health care, nor education, is handled by the city government.
Cuts in the budget will come from all departments - including the LAPD, Garcetti said.
According to the current 2020-21 fiscal year budget, the LAPD 's operating budget is proposed to be nearly $1.86 billion which is an increased of about $122 million from last year's budget.
Additionally, Garcetti said he would issue an order that would temporarily prevent officers from entering names in a statewide gang database, CalGang. The statewide system is meant to track people who may be affiliated with gangs in the state, however, the program has come under fire for officers misusing the system. In January, it was found that a teenager with no gang affiliation was entered into the database.
Police Commission President Eileen Decker said the commission will put a moratorium on the LAPD entering names in the database.
Decker also announced that the Police Commission would also use an indepedent prosecutor - someone who comes from outside the District Attorney's Office - to handle future discplinary matters pertaining to officers. The Commission will also look to cut $100 million to $150 million from its proposed 2020-21 budget, which is in line with what the City Council proposed on Wednesday.
However, two prominent black civil rights activists say Garcetti's plan does not go far enough and that more money can be squeezed out of what they call a "bloated" LAPD budget.
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson called on Garcetti and the City Council “to slash even more funds from the LAPD budget and immediately establish a crash program earmarking funds for an array of health, housing, social service, and job programs for the black poor in South L.A.''
“The mayor and the City Council should partner with civil rights and community activist groups to pinpoint programs and organizations for funding,'' he said. “We have long contended that the LAPD's budget is bloated, wasteful and a top-heavy drain on city tax dollars and revenue that should be far better spent on boosting aid for the poor and needy in South L.A. The LAPD budget cut should be just a first step in refocusing the city's priorities from spending on heavy-handed law enforcement to spending on citizen’s needs.''
Black Lives Matter Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah echoed Hutchinson's comments.
She said in remarks reported by the Los Angeles Daily News that she's “encouraged to see that our constant action has pushed Mayor Garcetti, (and the) City Council to back up their nice words with some actual action, however small, that directly confronts the racist police state that is the city of Los Angeles.''
Policies requiring officers to report misconduct of other police officers as soon as they identify it are also being looked at by the Police Commission.
“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 also said Wednesday that the Civil and Human Rights Commission will hold its first meeting "as soon as late next week."
“... 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.''
Several marches and rallies were planned for Thursday. Some of them include:
-- noon at Inglewood City Hall;
-- noon to 4 p.m., starting at McCambridge Park in Burbank and proceeding to Burbank City Hall;
-- 1 p.m. at UCLA's Royce Hall to “honor these victims of police brutality and to demand the immediate defunding of LAPD'';
-- 1 p.m. in El Sereno, starting at Eastside Cafe, 5469 Huntington Drive, and marching to Semillas del Pueblo, 4736 Huntington Drive;
-- 1 p.m. at Montebello Park; and
-- 4 p.m. at Sierra Vista Park, 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd.
Photo: Getty Images