The Los Angeles City Council, searching for a Holy Grail to grapple with an explosion of problems, latched on to a weak defunding of its police that will accomplish none of what the radicals want (Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles called for a complete defunding), and will make everything worse for Angelenos.
That is literally pocket change,” said Rebecca Kessler, a resident of Van Nuys who called in to the council this week. “It’s a slap in the face. You need to defund the police, take way more money, put way more money into these programs.”
It’s true. 64% of the $150 million in cuts (out of a $3 billion budget) would come from elimination of overtime pay (while overtime work will remain, just “banked” to be paid later, a development sure to be unpopular with officers). An estimated 243 officers would be cut (2%), bringing the force down to 9,757. That’s a lower number than the LAPD has seen since 2008, but it’s not going to change anything, other than stretch the officers serving on duty further, leading to more mistakes, frustration, and crime.
In a city like LA, $150 million diverted to “community policing,” mental health programs, and social services will be lost well to the right of the decimal point. None of it will likely make it to “the street” where it’s needed because of the layers and layers of administrative management and red tape required to actually do anything.
For example, a 2016 program to develop supportive housing for the homeless was to provide 5,873 housing units over 10 years. Four years, later only 19 projects have been started, and not one has been completed. Not one. The budget for this? Somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.3 billion, which, to build housing on Wilshire Boulevard, is still comically underfunded. But none of that matters, because not one cent has reached the people in need.
Meanwhile, homelessness in LA is up 12.7% in 2020 over 2019. That brings drugs, trash, and vermin with it, making LA the 2nd most rat-infested city in the U.S., according to pest control company Orkin. (Chicago, always Second City, has the honor of being first in rats.)
The crime has made the prison system and jails in Los Angeles County strain to the bursting point, which has led Sheriff Alex Villanueva to release supposedly non-violent inmates early due to COVID-19, to try to create social distancing in jail (as if it can be done). That’s 5,000 criminals now on the street with less police to deal with them.
Other local communities aren’t so happy about the releases from L.A. and Orange counties.
While it’s understandable to be concerned about infections, “people who are in custody made choices to commit crimes,” said San Bernardino District Attorney Jason Anderson.
Homelessness, drugs and crime also become a magnet for mental illness. One third of inmates in the LA county jail have some kind of mental health disorder.
Almost one-third of people with a mental illness get into the treatment systems through an encounter with a police officer, studies show. The lack of available treatment beds nationally means more people with a mental illness are stuck in jails until one becomes available, often for painfully long periods.
You might argue that less police means less encounters with mentally ill people and the homeless, which means less stress on jails and other facilities. I’m open to that argument, and I’d love to see a proposal to establish some alternate form of treatment for these needy people. But that’s not what Los Angeles is doing.
City leaders are simultaneously cutting police budgets, without making meaningful reforms, robbing retired officers of pension benefits, while allowing the worst social problems to fester.
Los Angeles City Council has waved a magic wand of virtue signaling, and made all the city’s problems worse.