City Councilman Herb Wesson and Council President Nury Martinez introduced a motion Tuesday to develop a nonviolent crisis response team that would answer certain police calls with city or county workers who are not law-enforcement officers.
The motion instructs the Los Angeles Police Department to work with the county’s Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and other government agencies to respond to non-violent incidents, such as drug abuse, incidents related to mental health, neighbor disputes and others.
It also instructs the office of the Chief Legislative Analyst and the office of the City Administrative Officer to assist with the development of the crisis response team.
Wesson said he agrees with backers of the Peoples Budget LA — a coalition of groups that want to defund the police.
“Angelenos protesting in the streets, supporting the People’s Budget LA, have asked us to reimagine public safety in the 21st century, and that is what we are doing,” Wesson said.
The People’s Budget seeks to cut the police budget by 90% and use those funds for mental health, housing and other services, but no council member has advocated for that.
“Today my colleagues and I continued our efforts on this City Council to reimagine what public safety looks like in the City of Los Angeles in order to better serve our communities, as well as our police officers,” Martinez said. “Eliminating non-violent response duties for police officers would be another major step forward in this larger effort. We will not step back from our responsibility to make our City a better place to live for all people.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League issued a statement of qualified support for the motion.
“We agree with Council member Wesson that not every call our city leaders have asked us to respond to should be a police response,” the union stated. “We are more than willing to talk about how, or if, we respond to non-criminal and non-emergency calls so we can free up time to respond quickly to 911 calls, crackdown on violent crime and property crime and expand our community policing efforts. We just need to be sure it’s done in a safe way for everyone, especially those that may be responding to these types of calls in the future.”
The motion will first be heard in the City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee of Police Reform, according to sources with Martinez’s office.