Los Angeles Police Union Says Officers Should No Longer Respond To Certain Calls
As the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) grapples with understaffing and slow emergency response times, the city’s police union – the Los Angeles Police Protective League representing over 9,000 sworn personnel – submitted a list this week to the Los Angeles City Council of 28 non-emergency calls that it believes should be diverted to unarmed responders.
The list – which includes nonviolent homeless and mental health-related calls – will allow officers to prioritize and respond more swiftly to critical emergencies and higher profile crimes, the union said March 1 in a statement to the media, and allow nonprofit workers and other city agencies to respond instead. The outline was sent to the city as part of its labor contract negotiations.
Union spokesperson Tom Saggau told The Epoch Times it took several months to put the list together, and it was not a joint effort with the LAPD.
“Police officers are sent to too many calls that are better suited for unarmed service providers,” Craig Lally, the union’s president said in a statement to the media.
“We believe that in order to maximize the potential benefits of this new response model, it’s important that the initial list of calls where police officers will cease responding to is robust.”
Other types of calls on the union’s list include issues such as parking violations, tenant disputes, dog complaints where no attack has occurred, illegal gambling, public defecation or urination, panhandling, calls to schools for nonviolent juvenile disturbances, welfare checks, nonviolent incidents at city parks, under the influence cases where no other crime is involved, public drinking, and cleanups of encampments.
Union director and former LAPD officer, Debbie Thomas said during a news conference March 1 that “police officers are not psychologists, we are not psychiatrists, we are not mental health experts.”
“We are not social workers, doctors, nurses or waste management experts,” she said.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement to the Associated Press that alternative policing has “already diverted thousands of calls away from a police response,” allowing officers to conserve limited resources for more serious calls.
Moore began asking retired officers in January to consider returning to the force amid a staffing shortage. As of mid-February, the department is down by 233 officers, according to a department personnel report.
It currently has around 9,200 officers, but 600 are expected to leave in 2024, a 20 percent increase over 2022.
The union’s proposal aligns with the city’s recent consideration of alternative means of policing in several categories, particularly when dealing with the homeless and mentally ill.
Los Angeles is not the first to consider a shift to such.
New York City, San Francisco, Portland, and Olympia, Washington have also implemented or considered deploying unarmed response teams in recent years.
Dispatching mental health specialists instead of police officers to substance abuse and nonviolent emergencies in Denver showed a 34 percent reduction in low-level crime, according to a 2022 study published in Science Advances, a peer-reviewed research publisher.
Fri, 03/03/2023 – 20:20