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Most Angelenos Support LAPD But Favor Reforms Like Community Policing, Unarmed Response

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LAPD officers take a knee next to protestors gathered outside L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's house days after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. (Mike Roe/LAist)

Nearly two-thirds of Angelenos believe the Los Angeles Police Department is serving and protecting their neighborhood, while community policing, Black Lives Matter, and the unarmed response model have also seen a marked increase in support.

Those were some of the key takeaways from a new survey of more than 1,700 residents by Loyola Marymount University's Study of LA Center aimed at gauging public opinion of the LAPD, according to the center’s founding director, Fernando Guerra. The survey comes during a turbulent year, with nationwide protests calling for racial justice and an end to police violence.

Guerra spoke with our local news and culture show Take Two:

“I think they’re looking at a police department that is changing with them — that they still believe there needs to be a police department, but they want to reimagine it in a new manner that looks like modern L.A. with its vision of how it sees itself and a new movement of transparency and collaboration.”

Some of the survey’s key findings were presented during today’s L.A. Police Commission meeting. They included the following:

  • 71% of Angelenos believe that LAPD’s role should be to serve, protect and enforce the law
  • Two in three Angelenos believe LAPD is doing a good job maintaining public safety
  • About 88% of Angelenos support community policing
  • 78% support the Black Lives Matter Movement (up from 70% 2-3 years ago)
  • 82% show support for an unarmed model of LAPD

The survey also showed that opinions were split along racial and ethnic lines when it came to trust in LAPD to do what is right. While three in five Asian and White residents said they trust LAPD to do what is right, only one in three Black residents said they do. Moreover, the majority of Black residents said they don’t believe LAPD is serving and protecting their neighborhood or people like them.

And while just 47% of residents said they support proposals to defund the police, 62% said they support proposals to redirect some money from the police budget to local programs.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW:

READ THE REPORT:

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Kaiser Permanente Doctor: ‘We’re Overwhelmed’ By This Coronavirus Surge

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File: A nurse adjusts her personal protective equipment (PPE) before caring for a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The number of beds available in intensive care units across Southern California has been hovering just north of 10% for the last few days.

In San Bernardino County, it actually hit zero this weekend, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, and hospital staffers across the area are feeling the pain.

Here's Dr. Alex McDonald, who practices family medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center:

“Our resources are being stretched so thin and we are just being overwhelmed. The wait time in the ER is mind boggling, and we’ve run out of beds upstairs in the hospital, so patients are sort of boarding in the ER.”

The hospital has received special licensing to convert some single rooms to double occupancies so more patients can move through the system.

“There are patients everywhere you look,” said McDonald, speaking on our local news and culture show, Take Two. But the biggest issue is the physical and emotional well-being of the medical staff, because “health care workers are being stretched to their capacity,” he said.

On the positive side, McDonald said he and his colleagues have enough personal protective equipment and other basics to help get through this surge.

For its part, Kaiser Permanente said it has continued to refine its plans throughout the course of the pandemic in response to the changing conditions, including the ability to quickly monitor supplies and resupply medical centers, as needed.

McDonald implored everyone to do their part to curb the spread of this virus:

“Everyone needs to act like they have coronavirus all the time to protect everyone around them — and its those small social gathgerings where people let their guards down that seem to be the real driver of this surge.”

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW:

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DA Gascón Defends New Policies, Says They Won't Endanger The Public

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L.A. DA George Gascón (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Just one day into the job and facing criticism from some of his own staff, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón today said his decision to lock up fewer people and shorten the sentences of people already behind bars will not endanger the public.

The DA's policy change on sentencing is one of his most controversial: Gascón will no longer seek sentencing enhancements for things like carrying a gun, and the retroactive nature of the policy will likely lead to the early release of possibly thousands of state prison inmates.

“First of all, we are not going to release anyone who is deemed to be dangerous by the Department of Corrections,” Gascón told our newsroom's public affairs show, AirTalk, which airs on 89.3 KPCC. He said the department has determined 95% of the inmates who have served 20 or more years of their sentences are safe to be released.

“There is absolutely no correlation between lengthy sentencing and public safety,” Gascón said. Under his resentencing plan, more than 20,000 state prison inmates from L.A. will be eligible for consideration for early release.

Gascón brings an entirely different vision to the largest local prosecutor’s office in the nation, which has had the reputation of seeking long sentences for offenders. He said studies show that for every additional year of incarceration, inmates are between 4-7% more likely to commit a new crime when they get out.

One longtime deputy DA said many of his colleagues are dismayed and in despair about Gascón’s plans — which include ending cash bail, no longer charging minors as adults, and no longer filing charges against people arrested for offenses related to their mental health condition, poverty, or homelessness.

“I agree with him that there needs to be a more progressive approach,” said the prosecutor, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. “But I think there is a balance. We need to take into consideration our role in protecting public safety and victims … The pendulum doesn’t need to swing all the way to the right or all the way to the left.”

Gascón pushed back against harsh criticism from the union representing rank-and-file LAPD officers, which accused him of becoming an “ally” of “criminals and gang members.”

The DA called the attack “predictable,” noting the union campaigned hard against him during the election and asserting it views his reforms “as an attack on their political power.”

Gascón’s new policies “are big and bold changes in the DA’s office,” said Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson. “I think he took the vote for him as a real mandate to change things around.”

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LA City Council Approves Plan To Meet $675M Shortfall, Shrinks Possible LAPD Layoffs By More Than Half

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Los Angeles City Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn during a Dec. 8, 2020 City Council meeting. L.A. City Council video screenshot

Last week, city analysts recommended an array of belt-tightening moves to help fill a $675 million crater in the budget for the fiscal year that started July 1. The 144-page Financial Status Report included a mandate to cut 3% from every city department’s budget, which would require many program cuts and some layoffs: among them, nearly 1,000 LAPD officers and more than 700 civilian law enforcement staff.

After Monday's marathon hashing-out in the Budget and Finance Committee, the full council on Tuesday opted to pass most of the City Administrative Officer’s cost-saving recommendations — with a few changes, including shrinking the number of possible LAPD layoffs by more than half, to 355 officers and 273 civilian jobs. Layoffs are also possible in the Departments of Animal Welfare, the Bureau of Engineering and the City Attorney’s Office.

Eliminating any city jobs would be a bitter pill, CAO Rich Llewellyn said, but “we do not see another way to cover the current shortfall.”

The vote opens the door for layoffs while the city tries other mitigation strategies, such as moving people to unfilled specially-funded positions, in-sourcing some work that’s currently contracted out, and hardening the hiring freeze.

Departments also have one week to submit alternative plans to save worker positions — the Bureau of Engineering submitted one shortly before the meeting.

A final list of layoffs will have to be approved by the city council.

During online public comment, callers evoked LAPD officers using batons against protesters outside the Mayor’s residence on Sunday to argue the department does not deserve special protection from budget cuts.

[LAPD officers] brutalize people … and they are never held accountable,” said Astrid Cota with Sunrise L.A. and the People’s City Council.

Maebe A. Girl, a member of the Silverlake Neighborhood Council, decried cuts in the CAO’s report that would stop the expansion of HIV prevention services to homeless people and other high-risk groups.

“We should not be making these kinds of cuts that impact vulnerable populations,” Girl said. She urged council members to tap law enforcement funds to bridge the city’s budget gap, instead of cutting health and social services programs. “You are the most powerful city council in the United States. Please do something.”

With the approval of the CAO’s recommendations, the city will take some unprecedented steps:

  • Using roughly $260 million in general fund reserves, wiping out the budget stabilization fund and contingency reserve, spending rainy-day funds down to the lowest level allowed in the city charter.

  • Utilizing debt to pay for day-to-day expenses; borrowing money that was meant for big capital improvement projects like an overhaul of the zoo and solar panels at municipal buildings, which Budget Committee chair Paul Krekorian likened to “putting the mortgage payment on a credit card.”

City negotiators are also in talks with public employee unions, possibly setting the stage for more furloughs or to defer pay raises scheduled to take effect in January.

The union representing LAPD officers has so far declined to join similar discussions.

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First Doses Of Coronavirus Vaccine Could Arrive In LA County As Soon As Next Week

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A health care worker in Britain, where the first vaccinations began Tuesday, prepares a dose. (Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)

Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer today said the county expects to get its first supply of a coronavirus vaccine as early as next week.

The first round could be about 84,000 doses, with two doses required to be effective. Health care workers at acute care hospitals will get the vaccine first, but Ferrer told the L.A. County Board of Supervisors that first allocation won't be enough to vaccinate all of those workers in L.A. County.

She said:

"We will be working with all of the health care facilities to make sure that they also have an ability to prioritize by risk of exposure the allocation within their facilities."

Ferrer added that the county hopes to receive a second allocation of vaccines by Dec. 21, with priority to residents and staff at skilled nursing and long-term care facilities.

The Southern California region, which includes 11 counties, is currently under stay-at-home orders due to a high number of hospitalizations that dropped available ICU beds under the 15% threshold set by state officials.

As of today, the Southern California region has only 10.1% of its ICU beds available.


OVERALL LOOK AT LA COUNTY NUMBERS:

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, Dec. 7:

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KCRW's 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' Has 2 New Hosts, Including A Member Of Funk Royalty

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New KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic hosts Novena Carmel and Anthony Valadez. (KCRW)

Morning Becomes Eclectic has long been a signature show for Santa Monica's KCRW, helping to introduce new music and give L.A. some good morning vibes. Now it's getting two new co-hosts, Novena Carmel and Anthony Valadez.

The show has been on the air for more than 40 years, but this marks the first time it will have more than one host. They're also the first people of color to host the program. Carmel and Valadez have been part of the station's late-night DJ team, and they also happen to be longtime friends, with Valadez describing Carmel as his best friend.

Carmel's interest lies in sharing music with people, while Valadez has experience as a turntable-spinning DJ, according to KCRW. Carmel is the daughter of Sly Stone of funk band Sly and the Family Stone. She comes from the Bay Area but moved to L.A. when she was 18 to study at UCLA. Valadez is a native Angeleno.

"Novena is pure joy and Anthony is the heart and soul of Los Angeles," Program Director of Music Anne Litt said in a statement. Last year, she became KCRW's first woman program director, as well as hosting Morning Becomes Eclectic. She's set to remain with the show until after the New Year, and will also continue to host her own show.

"I feel ecstatic and a bit like I’m dreaming," Carmel said in a statement. "I greatly admire Anthony’s work and what I would call his ‘creation ethic;’ he seems to never stop creating and finding inspiration for creativity everywhere."

"What I admire the most is [Novena's] ability to stay positive and always add perspective," Valadez said. "While I get the sense my aesthetic is perceived as ‘the sound of L.A.,’ in reality, it's the sound of the world."

KCRW also promises that the show will bring back live in-studio performances as soon as it's possible to do so. They're also looking to expand the Morning Becomes Eclectic brand beyond mornings.

"Our approach to this important role of MBE host was to really push the boundaries of what it means to be a DJ in today’s on-demand world," KCRW President Jennifer Ferro said in a statement.

Carmel and Valadez are building on a legacy built by just five previous hosts: Anne Litt, Jason Bentley, Nic Harcourt, Chris Douridas, and Tom Schnabel.

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LAist's Local Foodstuffs Gift Guide, Holiday 2020

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A sweet treat suggestion from our gift guide: Mochi from Fugetsu-Do. (Courtesy Go Little Tokyo)

Not even a pandemic can squash the shopping obligations of The Holidays. Since eating and drinking your feelings has been the most popular hobby of 2020, we stuck with the theme.

We will be inhaling fistfuls of cereal while drinking canned wine (don't knock it 'til you've tried it!), but perhaps the people on your holiday list deserve an upgrade — local style.

SoCal proprietors are ready to handle your eclectic gifting tendencies, varying budgets, creative tastes and distinctive personalities.

Or maybe you're only buying presents to maintain the veneer of being a functional human being.

Our holiday gift guide is for you all of you.

And no, it's not all alcohol. Although we could've done that.

  • Crazy cookbooks
  • Face-melting hot sauces
  • Artisanal boba
  • Cafe de olla
  • Fresh kimchi
  • Tamale kits
  • Toffee
  • Mochi
  • Cheese
  • Cookies
  • Cocktails

Happy holidaze.

READ MORE:

Morning Brief: George Gascón Is Sworn In As LA District Attorney

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George Gascón speaks to supporters on Super Tuesday at Union Station. Chava Sanchez / LAist

Good morning, L.A.

Yesterday, George Gascón was sworn in as the new L.A. District Attorney, replacing ousted D.A. Jackie Lacey. Gascón campaigned as a criminal justice reformer and promised change. On Monday, he made clear how that might look.

My colleague Frank Stoltze reports that after Gascón’s swearing-in ceremony, the city’s new top prosecutor announced a list of immediate reforms. Those include no longer filing first-time misdemeanor offenses linked to “poverty and mental health,” such as loitering or public intoxication; no longer charging juveniles as adults; creating a board to review shootings by law enforcement officers dating back to 2012; and no longer seeking the death penalty, calling it "racist" and "morally untenable.”

Gascón also announced his plans to work towards eliminating cash bail, including no longer seeking bail for anyone charged with a misdemeanor or non-violent, non-serious felony; and offering bail revocation hearings to people currently in jail for such violations.

Prior to running here in L.A., Gascón was the district attorney in San Francisco. During his tenure there, he co-authored a major piece of legislation, Proposition 47, which rolled back criminal penalties. It’s all part of his open effort to reform criminal justice.

"It is time to ... implement a system of justice that will enhance our safety and humanity," said Gascón during his inaugural speech. "Today, we are confronting the lie that stripping entire communities of their liberties somehow made us safer — and we're doing it with science, research, and data.”

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


What You Need To Know Today

Coronavirus Updates: California is expecting its first shipment of vaccines to arrive next week, and a COVID-19 exposure notification app is set to be released Thursday. L.A. County hospitalizations could soon hit 4,000, after officials reported another 8,000 new cases on Monday. In Riverside County, records for new coronavirus cases were set every day last week, and officials are bracing for even more patients.

Money Matters: Under a new proposal from Democrats in the state Legislature, California’s current eviction moratorium would continue through December 31 of next year. L.A. officials began accepting applications for a program that offers a one-time stipend of $800 to food service workers. The L.A. City Council’s Budget Committee is wrestling with how to “stop the bleeding.”

L.A. Kids: LAUSD campuses that had partially reopened for one-on-one and small-group tutoring and services will be shut down again, starting Dec. 10.

Restaurant Rules: After keeping restaurants open for outdoor dining despite L.A. County's ban, Pasadena must now shut down its eateries because of the state's overriding order.

Biden White House: If Xavier Becerra is confirmed as HHS Secretary, Gov. Gavin Newsom will have another major appointment to make, in addition to Kamala Harris' replacement.

Here’s What To Do: Sip holiday cocktails at home, explore L.A. architecture in miniature, screen recent Mexican documentaries, and more in this week’s best online and IRL events.


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