LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles City Council committee today unanimously endorsed a proposal to develop a crisis response team that would respond to certain “non-violent'' service calls instead of armed police officers.
The five-member Ad Hoc Committee on Police Reform unanimously approved the idea, although some members, notably John Lee and Paul Koretz, expressed some reservations about a community push to largely -- and quickly -- dismantle the police department.
In his comments, Koretz said such a move might leave the city looking like the horror movie, “The Purge.''
Councilman Herb Wesson told his colleagues he understands that some elected officials are uncomfortable with calls for dramatic change.
“Welcome to being Black,'' Wesson said. “Welcome to being uncomfortable.''
The motion, which now moves to the full council for consideration, instructs the Los Angeles Police Department to work with the county's Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and other government agencies to develop a system that will have a crisis-response team of respond to non-violent incidents, such as drug abuse, incidents related to mental health, neighbor disputes and others.
It also instructs the office of the Chief Legislative Analyst and the office of the City Administrative Officer to assist with the development of the crisis response team.
When the motion was introduced, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, issued a statement of qualified support for the motion.
“We agree with Council member Wesson that not every call our city leaders have asked us to respond to should be a police response,'' the union stated. “We are more than willing to talk about how, or if, we respond to non-criminal and non-emergency calls so we can free up time to respond quickly to 911 calls, crackdown on violent crime and property crime and expand our community policing efforts. We just need to be sure it's done in a safe way for everyone, especially those that may be responding to these types of calls in the future.''
The council's ad hoc committee also approved several other policing-related motions, all of which still need to be considered by the full council. Among them were a motion that would make it illegal to make racially motivated calls to 911, and one to equip all LAPD officers, not just those in the field, with body-worn cameras.
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