LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Despite calls from Black Lives Matter and other organizations for Los Angeles Police Department funds to be reinvested into communities, the city's Police Commission today unanimously signed off on a proposed budget increase of $213 million -- or 12.11% -- for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
The City Council and mayor have final approval over the proposed increase.
The increase would take the LAPD's operating budget from $1.761 billion to $1.974 billion. In its proposal to the commission, the department said the increased funding would go to obligatory salaries and expenses, replacement of vehicles and existing electric vehicle leases, continued funding of existing technology and contractual obligations and other requests.
``When I accepted the nomination for president of the commission, I made clear that defund the police was not something I agree with ... public safety is the foundation of any municipality,'' Commission President William Briggs said. ``... We cannot afford to have a diminished and weakened police force.''
In a letter to the commission, Police Chief Michel Moore said the additional funding would allow the department to restore staffing levels to 9,800 sworn officers, up from the current 9,473.
``In 2019 ... our staffing on the sworn side exceeded 10,000 personnel, and on the civilian side it exceeded 3,000 personnel,'' Moore said.
``With the cutbacks that were necessary in regards to the economic crisis, as well as calls that we would realign the organization and focus more on primary mission issues and free up funding that would go to alternative services, the organization in this last fiscal year was downsized to a physical head count below 9,500 personnel.
``So there's 500 fewer sworn members in the organization ... and that downsize actually amplified and became more than 600 personnel because we hired well below our attrition rate,'' he continued.
LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told the commission last week that the department is underdeployed for what it is currently funded for by 181 officers.
Moore also noted a rise in violent crime, particularly shooting violence and homicides, that Los Angeles and other cities across the United States have experienced since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020.
Commissioner Dale Bonner pressed Moore on whether the budget increase would make the public safer. Moore responded that it ``begins or continues the restoration of critical capabilities of the organization that go to the long-term safety of the city by a police department that is sufficiently funded and staffed to meet the needs of 21st century policing.''
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Community Action Network and other organizations spoke out against any increase in police funding during a news conference outside the department's headquarters on Monday morning.
``The answer to every social problem continues to be more police. Instead of housing, we get more police. Instead of services, we get more police. Instead of a Marshall Plan to fully resource our communities, we get more police. Instead of a plan to address the housing crisis, we continue to see millions of dollars going towards an already bloated police budget,'' said Pete White, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.
The groups noted widespread demand in 2020, following George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer, for a decrease to police funding, a reimagining of public safety and larger investments in communities.
``Thousands of people took to the streets last year, not to demand more funding for the police, but less. People took to the streets demanding `defund the police, refund the communities, divest, invest,''' said Greg ``Baba'' Akili of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles.
The LAPD received the most funding of any department in the city's current 2021-22 fiscal year budget, which included a 3% increase from when the Los Angeles City Council cut $150 million from the department's budget in July 2020.
The City Council must approve a budget by June 1, 2022, to go into effect on July 1, 2022.
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