LA City Council votes to slash police budget by $150M in response to protests

LA City Council votes to slash police budget by $150M in response to protests
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The Los Angeles City Council voted to reduce their police department budget by $150 million amid local and nationwide activists' calls to defund the police, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The council voted 12 to 2 to bring the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) workforce down to 9,757 officers by next summer. The last time that level of police staffing was seen in the city was 2008.

Much of the $150 million cut comes from funds allocated for police overtime pay.

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“This is a step forward, supporting minority communities in ways in which they deserve — with respect, dignity and an even playing field,” Councilman Curren Price, the only Black member on the council’s budget committee, said at the meeting, the Times reported.

The move illustrates how quickly priorities have shifted for city governments since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. His death sparked massive protests across the country from activists who demanded police reform and the shifting of funds from law enforcement to more social and safety net programs.

In April, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) pushed for a 7 percent increase to the LAPD budget, a move he has walked back on in recent weeks. Leaders have for years touted the city's large police staff, the Times noted. 

However, the $150 million cut still falls short of what activists have asked for. 

“That is literally pocket change,” Rebecca Kessler, a Los Angeles resident, told the council this week, according to the Times. “It’s a slap in the face. You need to defund the police, take way more money, put way more money into these programs.”

In New York, the city council has proposed a $1 billion cut to the police budget, which at face value accounts for a sixth of the department’s budget. 

Activists quickly pointed out that the proposal shifts most of the cuts to other city departments, such as making the city’s Department of Education pay for officers in schools instead of removing the officers from the campuses.