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Thu, Oct

Some Problems with ‘Defunding’ the LAPD

RANTZ & RAVEZ-Many cities in the more liberal states across America have gone wild with the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown and upcoming election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

It does not matter to me who you are supporting or voting for in November. That decision is entirely up to you and the rest of our fellow Americans. As the saying goes, may the best person win. 

Now the facts that you may not have read, heard, or seen on local or national media.  

FACT: Police officers in more liberal states and cities across America, under the leadership of mostly weak-kneed politicians, have become the target of Anarchists and Antifa who apparently want to topple our American form of Government that most of us respect, love and cherish. 

America is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is constantly trying to mold itself into a country that makes the masses feel happy and included in the process. This is most evident by reviewing the numerous United States Supreme Court decisions that have been handed down over the many years since we became a nation on July 4, 1776. 

We are a nation of immigrants and together we are strong and capable of most anything you can think of. We are people who come from all regions of the world -- farmers and ranchers, medical personnel and teachers, laborers and construction workers, scientists, first responders, military personal -- so many professions that make up the fabric of what America is today. 

While there have been many injustices in the past suffered by different ethnic groups, we have bonded closer as the years have passed. With education, people from all groups have risen to higher levels on the social scale and become successful Americans. Business opportunities and financial wealth have been attained by many from around the world who have come here to work hard and accomplish great success.   

FACT: What has kept us in check and permitted people from all backgrounds to find happiness, success and wealth in America are the laws that establish balance, equality, and protection for us. Police officers are the ones charged to enforce the laws; they are sworn to protect and serve everyone 24 hours a day. I know first-hand about that job and the challenges of being a police officer in a major metropolitan city.  

I joined the LAPD in 1968 and served for 33 years before retiring and moving on to a political career as an elected LA City Councilmember. Now, I look back at my experiences and compare them to what is happening today in America, particularly in Los Angeles. The LAPD has come under attack from certain community groups and local politicians demanding that its funding be reduced and be redirected to fund a variety of community programs in minority communities. 

FACT: Mayor Garcetti, who recently called police officers “killers,” pushed for reduced LAPD funding and was supported by the majority of the City’s Councilmembers. The impact has been significant in examining the current LAPD Citywide Profile. As of August 22, 2020, the LAPD is staffed with 9,904 sworn police officers. That number is down from the June 6, 2020 when the number was 9,998 officers. A reduction of 94 officers. How many officers are now missing from your neighborhood? How long will you have to wait for police response when you phone 911?    

In a meeting with LA City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield from District 3, we discussed LAPD operations and current funding. The Councilmember is a supporter of public safety and the LAPD. While he recognizes the City’s many funding needs -- from street services to sanitation and everything from the Airport to the Zoo -- he realizes that certain budget restraints are needed due to reduced revenues caused by the closure of many business and lack of sales tax and other city revenues. 

Councilmember Blumenfield is working to reduce some current LAPD responsibilities and pass them along to other agencies. This will relieve police officers from dealing with the homeless population and all that goes along with that challenge. Mayor Garcetti has totally failed to remedy the situation, even with the millions of dollars that have been generated to address it. This has become such a disaster that the County of Los Angeles is now reconsidering the structure of the Homeless Services Agency. 

While LAPD salaries and benefits have not been impacted, moving some of the current LAPD responsibilities to other agencies may be a benefit for both the community and police personnel.  Addressing mental illness and drug abuse is not a police function, though dealing with the various crimes associated with them is and will remain a police matter despite the lax laws that exist in both areas. LA County has a $50 million budget for the San Fernando Valley to deal with mental illness and drug abuse. Those dollars need to be reviewed to make sure they are being spent wisely and are impacting the problems associated with those in need of assistance. 

Much more to come on this subject in future editions of RantZ and RaveZ.

 

(Dennis P. Zine is a former and retired LAPD Supervisor, former and retired 12-year Los Angeles City Councilman and current General Manager at Bell Canyon in Ventura County.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.