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LA Sheriff's Department Will Start Deploying Body Cams By October

An LAPD officer's body camera. (David McNew/Getty Images)

At long last, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is going to start deploying body cameras on some of its deputies.

The department plans to start deploying cameras by October, County Inspector General Max Huntsman said in a report to the Board of Supervisors today. He said the county is in the final stages of selecting a vendor.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said he’ll first give cameras to deputies at five stations: Lancaster, South L.A., Lakewood, Industry and West Hollywood.

Eventually he wants to outfit about 5,000 of his more than 9,000 deputies.

The LAPD has had body cameras for nearly five years.

Earlier this year the sheriff released a draft policy that said deputies would have to turn on body cameras in any interaction with the public, from traffic stops to the use of force.

State law now largely requires the release of body camera footage of officer shootings or other major uses of force.

Hunstman said he and the county public defender are concerned that Villanueva's proposed policy has "no real accountability for a deputy failing to activate the body-worn camera," and that he intends to let deputies review body cam footage before writing a report about a shooting or other use of force.

In the end, though, the inspector general called the deployment of body cams "an immediate necessity."


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One-Third Of Workers Are Unemployed In LA’s ‘Black Beverly Hills’

People stop to look at a George Floyd Memorial Mural painted on a boarded-up business in downtown Los Angeles. Chava Sanchez/LAist

The coronavirus pandemic has left one out of five workers in L.A. County out of a job. But joblessness has climbed even higher in parts of L.A. with large Black populations.

Many Black neighborhoods are now experiencing levels of unemployment that are double — and in some cases triple — the rates seen in L.A.’s predominantly White neighborhoods.

Even higher-income Black neighborhoods are reeling from high unemployment — like View Park-Windsor Hills, sometimes called the “Black Beverly Hills.”

The community is 80.1% Black with a median household income of $91,542, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

It now has an unemployment rate of 32.2%, the highest in all of urban Los Angeles and double that of the actual Beverly Hills.

Experts say Black workers are now confronting an acute version of the unemployment crisis they’ve always faced.

“The crisis that we're seeing today ... is not a surprise," said Lola Smallwood Cuevas, a researcher with the UCLA Labor Center. "It has been generations in the making.”


LA Voters Could Get A Chance To Weigh In On Vacancy Tax

A post on a street light in Boyle Heights listing rooms for rent. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Should L.A.’s tens of thousands of vacant properties be taxed?

Voters could get a chance to weigh in this November, following a move by the city council today that’s modeled after a similar measure in Oakland.

Reporter Aaron Mendelson covered the event.


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The Lights On LA's Big Stages Won't Go On For A While

The Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center will remain closed until April 2021, along with the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Courtesy of The Music Center

In a blunt assessment of the pandemic's impact on a leading cultural organization, the Center Theatre Group — which runs the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas Theatre — said today it will remain closed until April.

That means the performing arts venues will have been dark for more than a year by the time they reopen.

CTG also said the coronavirus has cost it as much as $40 million in lost revenue, prompting more furloughs and slashing nearly two-thirds of the organization's budget.

As CTG struggles with its financial situation caused by the coronavirus, management recently received an anonymous letter from a group of "Black, Indigenous, and People of Color" emoloyees who say they have yet to see CTG realize its mission "to reflect the community we serve."


Ahmanson, Taper To Remain Dark Until April 2021

Latest LA County COVID-19 Cases And Deaths: Close To 3,000 Total Deaths, 8% Positivity Rate

File: L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer provides an update on the county's response to the coronavirus crisis. Screenshot via YouTube courtesy L.A. County

Los Angeles County officials announced Tuesday 1,337 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 33 new deaths. Of those who died, 24 were over age 65, eight were between 41 and 65, and one was between 18 and 40, according to the L.A. County Public Health Department.

Of those over age 65, 20 of them had underlying health conditions, while all of those between 41 and 65 years old did.

These numbers bring the county's total to 75,084 positive cases, with 2,959 deaths. Of those who've died, 93% had underlying health conditions.

Race and ethnicity information is available for 99% of those who have died, as reported by public health officials:

  • 42% Latino/Latina
  • 28% White
  • 17% Asian
  • 11% African American
  • <1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
  • 1% Other

There are currently 1,288 people hospitalized in L.A. County with COVID-19: 31% in the ICU and 25% on ventilators. A total of 841,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus, and 8% of them have tested positive.


Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more, visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. County or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Monday, June 15:

Rally To Reinstate OC Mask Requirement Drowned Out By Counter-Protesters

Orange County Labor Federation rally on Tuesday was shouted out by anti-maskers. Screenshot via Facebook

It was supposed to be a rally to convince Orange County's leaders to reinstate the requirement that masks must be worn in public to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Instead, workers and leaders of local labor unions were drowned out by rowdy anti-mask protesters who shouted "I can't hear you over all the freedom" through a bullhorn and blocked speakers' faces with signs.

Last Thursday, the OC Board of Supervisors voted to end the county's requirement that masks be worn in public, including inside stores. The reversal came after the county health officer behind the original mask order resigned amid death threats and protests at her home by anti-maskers.

Now many retail workers worry they will get sick, according to Gloria Alvarado, the head of the Orange County Labor Federation, which represents multiple local labor unions. She worries a surge in people not wearing masks will lead to a spike in cases, and result in stay-at-home orders being reinstated and recently reopened businesses forced to close down.

This was the message Alvarado and others intended to convey at a rally outside the county's administrative offices in Santa Ana this morning.

But as this 18-minute video shows, loud protesters surrounded the speakers, playing guitars and yelling that the mask requirement was a "socialist agenda."

"It was extremely scary and disappointing," said Alvarado, who added that people also made racist comments to her as she spoke. "This is not the Orange County I grew up in."

New cases of COVID-19 in Orange County are up 23% since the beginning of June.


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City Councilmembers Call To Replace Armed LAPD Officers For Non-Violent Calls

Protesters at City Hall, June 6, 2020. Chava Sanchez/LAist

What if you called for help for a homeless person in distress, a drug overdose, or a neighborhood dispute — and a social worker, mental health professional or outreach worker showed up, instead of a police officer with a gun?

Los Angeles leaders are introducing a proposal to create a “systematic crisis-response plan” that would substitute unarmed service providers for the LAPD in "non-violent, non-criminal situations."

Society has gone "from asking the police to be part of the solution, to being the only solution for problems they should not be called on to solve in the first place.” a draft version of the city council motion said. The measure is slated to be formally introduced Tuesday afternoon"

“In order to properly service the most vulnerable, the City of Los Angeles should look to advance non-law enforcement solutions in circumstances that are non-criminal.”

The motion by Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmembers Herb Wesson, Bob Blumenfield, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price, calls for city and county departments including the LAPD, LAHSA and the Department of Mental Health to work together to “develop an unarmed model of crisis response that would divert non-violent calls for service ... away from LAPD to the appropriate non-law enforcement agencies.”

In a tweet announcing the proposal, former Council President Herb Wesson acknowledged the work of Black Lives Matter-LA and other organizations behind the "People’s Budget," who have been calling to defund police and spend city resources on social services and alternative community safety measures instead.

"Black Lives Matter-LA, BLD PWR...with #PeoplesBudgetLA were absolutely right, we need to reimagine public safety in the 21st century," Wesson wrote. "One which reduces the need for armed police presence, especially when the situation does not necessarily require it."

A panel of Peoples Budget leaders presented to council committee chairs at city hall Monday. Advocates for police abolition have long argued that law enforcement mission creep — involving armed officers in situations where people need healthcare, conflict mediation or housing — contributes to police violence and abuses in communities of color.


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Trump Signs Executive Order Barring Most Police Use of Chokeholds


President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday banning the use of choke holds by police, except when an officer believes his or her life is in jeopardy, and which also encourages police departments to improve training on use of force.

The order comes as the president faces tremendous pressure to take action following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police last month.

In a Rose Garden ceremony, which at times sounded like a campaign speech, Trump said Americans "demand law and order." "They may not say it, they may not be talking about it," he said, "but that's what they want."

According to senior White House officials, the order will create a database to track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct, and use federal grants to encourage departments to meet certain higher certification standards on use of force.

It would also call on departments to involve social workers and mental health professionals on calls dealing with homelessness, mental illness and addiction.

The order does not address concerns by many that police treat African Americans and people of color unfairly. The focus, instead, is on breaking down barriers and bringing communities together and not demonizing the police.

On Tuesday the president, as he has in the past month, forcefully defended law enforcement, saying, the number of bad officers was "very tiny."

And he denounced proposals to defund police departments, saying in many departments were underfunded and under supported.

This story has been updated.

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Black Lives Matter Took Their 'Peoples Budget' To City Council

Pie chart of city spending priorities based on survey results for The People's Budget. Screen grab Channel 35

Black Lives Matter-L.A. presented their plan to 'Defund Police' to city council members yesterday. It's called 'The People's Budget,' and it would reallocate city funding to social programs and away from law enforcement.

Later, the council's Budget and Finance Committee passed a motion introduced by Council President Nury Martinez (and others) to find $100-150 million in reductions to the LAPD’s budget. The full council is expected to consider the measure on Tuesday.

Melina Abudullah, co-founder of BLM-L.A. told elected officials:

"This is a moment where the world has cracked open, and you all have the opportunity to really be courageous and do something different in the city of Los Angeles."


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Morning Briefing: Reforming LAPD

A protester holds up a sign during the YG x BLMLA x BLDPWR protest and march on June 07, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

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In conversation with Take Two host A Martínez, several experts on police tactics and use of force suggested that one of the first steps toward police reform should be the creation of an independent national database that would track officers’ records of misconduct.

"They should be in that database, and be prohibited by law from serving as a police officer ever again in any state," said Erroll Southers, the director of the Safe Communities Institute at USC and a co-creator of an LAPD community policing training program.

Greg Meyer, a retired LAPD captain and expert on police use of force, added that the local department should also develop a better way to prevent officers with problematic track records from continuing to work, saying:

"The courts and arbitrators and civil service commissions have a really sorry record for returning fired officer misfits back to duty.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, June 16

As the school year comes to an end, Marina Peña and Chava Sanchez have been hearing from high school students about how they've been adjusting to life during the pandemic and the civil unrest.

Unemployment has swept Los Angeles as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but joblessness has climbed much higher in parts of L.A. with large Black populations. Many Black neighborhoods are now experiencing levels of unemployment that are double or even triple the rates in other areas, reports David Wagner.

Elina Shatkin examines L.A. County officials’ report that 50% of restaurants that reopened last weekend were not in compliance with county requirements.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Policing The Police: Leaders of the Black Lives Matter-L.A. movement presented to city council an alternate budget for L.A., which calls for investing in social services over police. Experts on law enforcement, use of force and more weigh in on how to reform LAPD. Following protests, L.A. county officials have walked back their initial finding that Robert Fuller's death by hanging was a suicide.

Coronavirus Fallout: Add In-N-Out to the list of restaurants suing their insurer for denying their business interruption coverage. Much of L.A.’s recyclables ended up in landfills following the city’s stay-at-home orders. Gov. Newsom said that reopening California's economy was inevitable — and so is a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

Equal Rights At Work: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that workplace protections bar employers from firing LGBTQIA employees because of their sexual orientation.

Turn In Your Old Car… For Public Transit: The South Coast Air Quality Management District is now offering a voucher good for a whole lot of bus, train and rideshare trips in exchange for your old car.

What To Do And Watch: Poets celebrate Juneteenth, the United in Pride film fest unspools online and Baron Vaughn and Open Mike Eagle launch a new show in this week’s best online and IRL events. The Oscars are now pushed back two months to April 25.

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Photo Of The Day

The name of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who was shot and killed by Atlanta police, was added to a memorial at the Silver Lake reservoir for people who have died at the hands of law enforcement.

(Oscar Garza/LAist)

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