Two months after a divided Los Angeles Unified school board slashed funding for its police department by more than a third, the contours of a dramatically diminished force are emerging, a newspaper reported.
Under a plan presented to the board on Tuesday, police officers would be removed from school campuses and weekend patrols meant to protect schools from vandalism would be eliminated, among other cuts, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
The debate over the proposed cuts, set for later this month, marks a wide split on the board over the role that armed, uniformed officers should play in providing security to hundreds of thousands of students enrolled at more than 900 campuses, according to the Times.
With some on the seven-member board calling for the complete elimination of the police department and others opposed to cuts, the sharply opposing views played out in the streets outside the district’s downtown headquarters this week, where protesters in favor of police reforms sparred verbally with police supporters.
In a signal of how unresolved the issue remains for many, a district task force said it intends to survey high school students, parents and employees around the district to evaluate opinions on school police, The Times reported.
Embedded in the proposal to cut spending is a recent district effort to rein in the widespread use of overtime in the police department. The practice has resulted in mid-level supervisors, detectives and rank-and-file officers taking home some of the highest pay in the nation’s second-largest school system, with about two dozen officers earning at least $190,000 last year, The Times reported.
The board first took up the idea of overhauling its police force this summer amid national protests over killings of Black people by police officers. Confronted with impassioned demands that they move decisively to rethink policing at schools, board members decided in a 4-3 vote on June 30 to cut $25 million from the police department’s $70 million budget, a 36% reduction. The decision was largely viewed as a preliminary step by the board majority toward shutting down the department entirely.