LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Commission today will review a report from the police department outlining a $18.5 million plan to improve how it handles protests and civil unrest.
The department had initially submitted a budget of $66.7 million to incorporate 106 recommendations from three reports that found the department mishandled aspects of its response to last year's protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The three reports were released in March and April and found common themes of lack of preparedness, training and unity of command. The department's proposed recommendations include more than $4.1 million for technology and equipment, including for four officers and four intelligence analysts to form a new team monitoring social media. The budget would also purchase social media software.
The recommendations were met with opposition from activists calling for a continued decrease to the police's budget following the Los Angeles City Council's move last year to cut the budget by $150 million.
The original $66.7 million budget was reduced to $18.5 million in the report submitted on Friday to the police commission for approval. The Los Angeles City Council would also have to approve the plan before the department would receive funding for the recommendations.
The new budget proposal also calls for nearly $12.6 million for training, including in the use of less-lethal launchers, which the reports found officers weren't properly trained in and in some circumstances used against peaceful protesters. LAPD Chief Michel Moore emphasized during a virtual town hall with journalists Monday that the reports found the department needed additional training for officers.
“When we looked back at our training, we found that issues of dealing with crowd control, civil unrest, crowd management, interactions with the media ... during those highly volatile events did not keep up with the perishable skill that that represents. So our proposal tomorrow is to identify the added resources that is necessary so that one of those perishable skills -- dealing with civil unrest, crowd management, dealing with the interactions with media and those types of circumstances -- is improved,'' Moore said.
The LAPD's use of social media has already drawn criticism from the public, and the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit think tank based at New York University School of Law, reported on Sept. 8 that the department gives broad authorization to its officers to collect social media data from people they interact with on patrol. It also found that the department is set to begin using a new social media surveillance tool called Media Sonar, which identifies connections between people and builds individual profiles using data from 300 sources with 2 billion records.
The LAPD's budget proposal to incorporate the three reports' recommendations was met with opposition from activists calling for a continued decrease to the police's budget. Following the scaled-back proposal released Friday, activists reiterated their opposition to any additional funding for the LAPD.
“This is yet another police money grab, using LAPD's violence to increase police resources and spy powers,'' said the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. “This is the opposite of what our communities faced down LAPD violence last summer to demand: defunding the police.''
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, White People 4 Black Lives and the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles signed a letter to the police commission urging them to reject the proposal and commit to reducing the LAPD's budget.
“This is the moment to stop expanding an institution that keeps harming our communities. The interpersonal harms that our communities face have been produced by years of police consuming more and more resources that could instead be used for housing, health care, education and other investments that actually keep people safe and healthy,'' the letter stated.
People can watch the Los Angeles Police Commission's meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday by visiting https://lapd.zoom.us/s/289225944.
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