LAPD Union Voices Support for Unarmed Response to Certain 911 Calls

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Protective League Wednesday voiced its support for a system that would stop sending officers to respond to certain 911 calls for service.

The union that represents Los Angeles Police Department officers said it supported removing sworn officers from 28 types of emergency calls. These include:

-- non-violent calls related to homelessness and mental health;

-- non-fatal vehicle accidents;

-- welfare checks;

-- calls to schools unless school administration initiates a call for emergency police response;

-- calls involving alcohol or drugs when no other crime is in progress;

-- homeless encampment clean-ups;

-- parking violations.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield said in a statement that he was encouraged by the proposal as the city aims to reshape its response to certain calls for service.

"This list of calls presents opportunities that enable the city to develop a network of trained crisis workers and community based responders to be dispatched for non-criminal behavior and situations," Blumenfield said. "In order to build this network out, dedicated city staff is needed to focus on this work and realize its transformative potential."

The union said the proposal would free up time for officers to respond to more serious emergencies quicker and engage in community policing. The union said it would work with the city and the LAPD to "safely institute an unarmed alternative response to certain 911 calls for service."

"Police officers are sent to too many calls that are better suited for unarmed service providers," LAPPL President Craig Lally said in a statement. "We believe that in order to maximize the potential benefits of this new response model, it's important that the initial list of calls where police officers will cease responding to is robust."

The City Council was set to vote Wednesday on approving $1 million in funding toward creating an Office of Unarmed Response and Safety, but delayed taking up the item by two weeks.

In January, following the deaths of three men in encounters with LAPD officers since the new year, three council members sought to expedite creation of the office, which was initially brought forward by then-Councilman Mitch O'Farrell in October. O'Farrell sought to build on previous council plans to create unarmed crisis-response models.

According to O'Farrell's motion, the office would ensure around-the- clock coordination and deployment of unarmed response specialists to non- violent calls for service, as well as collaboration with 911 dispatchers, and seek to address barriers for serving high-need communities by improving coordination between agencies.

The office would also incorporate the various related models and pilot programs currently deployed in the city.

Last month, five council members called for a review by the city controller of the unarmed crisis response programs in Los Angeles.

The motion, introduced by Council Members Tim McOsker and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, seeks to "better understand the effectiveness of these programs in the hopes of providing resources and services to those that need it most," according to McOsker's office.

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