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LA City Council Expands Police Oversight; Plan Calls For Unarmed Responders On Nonviolent Calls

Demonstrators confront police in the Fairfax District on May 30, 2020 during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while while being arrested and pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer. MARK RALSTON/AFP via
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The L.A. City Council approved a stack of measures on Tuesday aimed at increasing police oversight and scaling back the role of law enforcement in city life.

In the remaining days before a 3-week long July recess, councilmembers are racing to respond to calls for substantive change coming from constituents who’ve been protesting for racial justice.

One green-lit measure orders a plan for replacing LAPD officers with unarmed crisis response personnel for nonviolent emergency calls. In theory, a call to 911 about a homeless person in distress, for example, or a domestic dispute, would be answered by mental health professionals or social workers, instead of a police officer with a gun.

The council also voted to require independent oversight of an investigation into the conduct of LAPD officers during protests in May and June.

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Councilmember Mike Bonin helped introduce the motion asking the LAPD to bring in former defense attorney Gerald Chaleff to oversee the agency's after action report. Chaleff is a member of the LAPD Police Commission who oversaw a federal consent decree that was imposed in 2001, after a scandal involving corruption within the police department's Rampart Division.

“If anyone threw brick at an officer, that’s a crime and they should be prosecuted,” Bonin said. “But if anyone threw a punch at, shoved or fired into peaceful protesters -- that’s a crime and they should be punished. We owe the people of Los Angeles...a thorough and independent investigation.”

Bonin said he wants to see a close review of the LAPD’s tactics, use of force against protesters, and treatment of protesters who were arrested.