LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The union representing Los Angeles police officers lashed out at Mayor Eric Garcetti today, objecting to his use of the word “killers'' while discussing proposed law enforcement funding cuts with a group of black community leaders.
“We've sent an emergency request to Chief (Michel) Moore to send the LAPD Crisis Response Team to City Hall because Eric has apparently lost his damn mind,'' the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement condemning the mayor's comment.
“Given that Eric has clearly stated in the past his appreciation and pleasure with the job the LAPD performs, the Board of Directors (of the union) finds his statement offensive and we are deeply worried about his capacity to lead our city.''
Union leaders called a midday news conference to discuss “the city's prognosis under Garcetti's tenure.''
On Thursday, Garcetti spoke to a group of black community leaders about the anti-police-brutality protests that have rocked the city over the past week, and about his proposal to slash as much as $150 million in funding from the Los Angeles Police Department in favor of financing social-service programs in black neighborhoods. The event at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church was also attended by other elected officials, LAPD Chief Michel Moore and Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
As Garcetti was discussing the proposed police funding cut, he said, “We must lead. I got calls from mayors around the country, some of them saying, `I'm so excited,' the other ones saying, `What the hell did you do? Now I (have to) shift money.' That's exactly the point. 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.''
A spokesman for the mayor's office told the Los Angeles Times that Garcetti was not referring specifically to the LAPD, but to law enforcement in general across the country.
On Thursday night, Garcetti sent an email to city employees, in part praising the work of LAPD officers but saying the city needs to rethink it's public safety operation as a whole in response to the national debate about police brutality and racial inequities that were spotlighted by the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Our officers put themselves on the line each day to answer calls for help whenever and wherever they're needed,'' Garcetti wrote in the email. “I've met officers everywhere in our city and I've seen them do the job selflessly and honorably. I've witnessed how they know the neighborhoods, speak the languages and understand the experiences of the people they serve.
“We have made significant change, but we need to keep improving our approach to public safety until all of our citizens have confidence that law enforcement recognizes their humanity, dignity and right to live free.''
During the Thursday event, Moore, who did not address Garcetti's statement, said it's important for police officers to continue to reach out to members of the communities they patrol and listen to their grievances.
He said officers need to have more humility and treat each person with whom they interact with dignity and respect.
“The hurt, the pain, the frustration, what we've seen with people who are tired of calling for change, I share (that with) members of the LAPD,'' Moore said. “We need to reach across, if you will, the line and see people who are going through so much more and identify and make an effort to humanize not just them, but ourselves.''
The LAPPL, however, has taken offense at the idea of pulling funds from the police department. Some community groups outraged at police brutality have been pushing for a nearly wholesale defunding of the LAPD, calling for what would basically amount to a 90% slashing of the agency's $1.8 billion budget.
While the city's proposal is nowhere near as dramatic, it represents a major reversal from Garcetti's position of just a few weeks ago, when he proposed increasing the LAPD budget during the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The idea of cutting funds first surfaced in the form of City Council motion, introduced this week by Council President Nury Martinez and others, calling for a reduction of between $100 million and $150 million in the LAPD's budget.
Garcetti codified that plan hours later, announcing plans to cut $250 million from the citywide budget -- including $150 million from the LAPD – and redirecting the money toward programs in under-served neighborhoods.
The LAPPL blasted the proposed funding cut, saying the suggestion that “the work police offers perform ... is designed to harm people of color'' is divisive and disrespectful. The union has said slashing police funding will only result in a less-safe city.
“We expressed our genuine disgust and outrage in the murder of George Floyd,'' according to a union statement earlier this week. `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. We have proven that we can step up and tackle the challenges this city faces collaboratively.''
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