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LA Moves Ahead With Plans For Unarmed Responders On Some 911 Calls

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Los Angeles Police Department officers patrol an L (Gold) Line station in this file photo. (Courtesy L.A. Metro)
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The Los Angeles City Council today took a step toward creating a “crisis response plan” to replace LAPD officers with unarmed service providers for some emergency calls.

The five-member Ad Hoc Committee on Police Reform approved a motion asking city staff to create a plan and study similar models elsewhere, like one in Eugene, Oregon. The plan can now go to the full city council for a vote. It’s one of a flurry of council motions responding to ongoing protests over police use of force and community safety.

Supporters say that a "one-size-fits-all" approach of sending armed police to respond to every 911 call introduces potential violence to black and brown communities -- and that professionals trained to deal with mental health issues, substance abuse or homelessness would be more effective for non-violent calls.

Councilmembers John Lee, Gil Cedillo and Paul Koretz voted for the motion but raised concerns about funding and questioned if the city is moving too quickly or drastically to cut law enforcement resources.

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Councilmember Herb Wesson, who helped introduce the measure, pushed back on critics.

“I understand… that this makes you feel a little uncomfortable,” Wesson said. “Well, welcome to being black. Welcome to being uncomfortable.”

Early this week, the council’s Budget and Finance Committee endorsed cutting $133 million from the police department’s budget. The full council is expected to vote on the cuts next week.

The planned downsizing falls far short of the “People’s Budget” model presented by Black Lives Matter-LA and other community groups last week. That model calls for a near complete defunding of LAPD resources in favor of social services, housing and other community safety alternatives.

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