The City of Los Angles, California voted earlier this year to cut about 150 million dollars from the LAPD budget in the wake of the defund the police movement of late.
Los Angeles is home to about 12.5 million residents, and currently, LA employs about 9,000 sworn officers and 3,000 civilian employees. LAPD stats show they had 10,080 sworn, and 3,000 civilian employees last year.
As this is being written, LA has around one officer for every 433 residents, that ratio gives LA one of the lowest officer to resident ratios of a major United States city.
On a good note, despite the cuts, the LAPD still maintains an extremely impressive call for service response time for emergency calls – just under 6 minutes. On a bad note, homicides have soared to their highest level in a decade.
The city reported 266 homicides as of October 31st, 2020, representing a nearly 25% increase over the same period last year, and it tops the 2019 total of 253 murders.
In addition to the increase in murders, nonfatal shootings are up as well, up more than 21% compared with the same time last year.
Budget cuts have caused citizen services to be reduced, causing manpower cuts to their crime prevention units, homicide units, narcotics units, air support units, and gang units; many officers have had to be reassigned to answer calls for service, to help with patrol unit deficits.
Additionally, police have had to stop responding to non-injury traffic accidents, and to most low priority calls, such as homeless issues, and hit and run calls.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League’s (LAPPL) President Craig Lally said that the negative impacts the community will experience as a result of the widespread reduction in public safety services will be “catastrophic,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Times also reported the apposing view of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah, who complained that the defunding “doesn’t go nearly far enough”
Chief Michel Moore, who had led the department since June 2018, told the Times that the dramatic budget cuts have created voids that the city still hasn’t figured out how to solve.
In the 1980’s and 90’s, crack cocaine hit big cities hard, and crack and related problems in LA became the worst in the country. Gangs selling the drug, and murders related to the drug trade, fueled violence, with some years showing murder rates of 1,000 per year. The police responded with putting great resources into the problem.
Slowly, they were able to get the crime rate and homicide numbers down by proactive and aggressive police work.
For the sake of those in LA, let’s hope that the budget cuts don’t cause a resurgence in the violent crime rates they saw in the 1980’s and 90’s.