We need to restructure community safety from the ground up.
The murder of George Floyd was a wake up call for many Angelenos – not only to reexamine police tactics, but to reimagine public safety in its entirety. The future of public safety must apply the right response, not necessarily an armed response, for each call. Los Angeles must go beyond the reforms attempted after ‘92 and the Rampart Scandal, and begin a universal restructuring of the LAPD from the ground up. Specifically, it must examine its accountability, transparency, disciplinary processes, distribution of assets and permissible tactics.
To achieve these goals, there must be the creation of an independent commission made up of experts in restorative justice and public safety.
Currently, the LAPD is in the jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles, while the Health, Mental Health and Public Social Services departments are in the jurisdiction of County of Los Angeles.
The City of Los Angeles needs to have the direct jurisdictional authority to provide care to our communities. We can achieve this a number of ways.
One way is to create either a City Department of Mental Health and Social Services or Department of Violence Prevention so that the City will have the direct ability and oversight to hire social workers, gang reduction workers, mediators, and mental health professionals to respond in lieu of armed police officers in non-life threatening situations.
Another way is to contract with existing agencies with expertise in providing mental health and social services.
Finally, we can restructure the responsibility of County departments to better and more directly provide accountable services in health and mental health to the City of Los Angeles.
However, there are steps we can take now.
The following reforms should be implemented immediately:
- Expand effective “community-based policing” model, where Senior Lead Officers partner with neighborhood and community groups to identify and solve local problems.
- Require LAPD to exhaust all other means before using deadly force.
- Require LAPD officers to give a verbal warning before using deadly force in all circumstances.
- Require LAPD officers to report each time they point their firearm at a civilian.
- Implement comprehensive training in de-escalation, anger management and conflict resolution, and universal, evidenced-based, cultural sensitivity curriculum for law enforcement.
- Implement a rigid disciplinary approach for police officers who do not activate their body cameras.
- Develop mobile crisis services, peer crisis services, and “warm lines” for people with behavioral or mental health issues.
- Utilize technology (speed cameras, etc.) instead of armed police officers to enforce minor traffic violations to reduce unnecessary interactions and eliminate racial pre-textual stops.
- Create a 3-digit number for non-emergency public safety calls.
- Work with the LAUSD School Board to re-evaluate the Los Angeles School Police Department to determine whether they can be replaced during school hours with additional counselors, psychiatrists and/or social workers.
- Replace armed police officers with unarmed peace officers to enforce minor offenses such as noise complaints, landlord/tenant disputes and loitering.
- Continue to reform the police review and disciplinary process (Board of Rights) based on the ACLU report on the LAPD.
I also want to hear from you on your public safety priorities. Please fill out this survey about how you envision community safety in Los Angeles.
The work of reimagining and restructuring public safety is not a one-time choice, but an ongoing process with a focus on what makes our communities safe. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out.