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Los Angeles County law enforcement stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in funding if a ballot measure inspired by “Black Lives Matter” efforts do ‘defund the police’ passes in November.
The LA County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to redirect $880 million away from law enforcement, choosing instead to use it for ‘community’ programs, Fox News reported.
The money would be taken from the country’s unrestricted general funds, local FOX 11 in Los Angeles noted further.
Board members voted 4-1 in favor of the proposal, called “Reimaging L.A. County,” to permanently shift 10 percent of the county’s general funds away from law enforcement and towards line items for mental health services and programs that promote alternatives to incarceration.
In addition to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, the funds would also be prohibited for use by the county district attorney’s office as well as the courts.
FOX 11 reporter Bill Melugin noted that the sole ‘no’ vote came from Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who complained that the proposal was rushed through without any input from citizens. He added that the majority of board members supporting the amendment believe that voters should decide.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger was the lone "no" vote, saying this proposal was rushed, wasn't transparent, had no feedback from stakeholders, and could result in job cuts to county employees as well as budget issues down the road. Other Supervisors say let the voters decide.
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) August 4, 2020
The proposal comes as the BLM-inspired ‘defund the police’ initiative spreads primarily to Democrat-run urban centers, even as violent crime and homicides spike in 50 of the country’s biggest cities, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.
The paper found that in 36 of the 50 cities, homicide rates have increased by double-digit percentages. Overall, homicides are up 24 percent this year over last year, while shootings and gun violence have risen as well.
“It’s time to bring our budget into alignment with our actions, intentions and vision,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who led the L.A. initiative.
“The supervisors have said we want to move people from custody to care, and our constituents are pleading with us to expand housing and treatment options and stop relying on punitive, outdated law enforcement tactics,” she added, FOX 11 reported.
She claimed that the proposal wasn’t about ‘defunding’ police but instead about investing in “safety net programs,” the affiliate reported.
According to Marcel Rodarte, executive director of the California Contract Cities Association, several cities the organization represents have expressed concerns about the initiative.
“What would the board do to ensure public safety throughout the county is not compromised?” Rodarte asked, the local Fox affiliate reported. “What metrics will you use to measure success? … We believe the board and county owe answers to these questions and more to the cities and residents of L.A. County.”
Both Kuehl and the measure’s co-author, Supervisor Hilda Solis, also received pushback from Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai, who was not at the Tuesday meeting but warned during an earlier session a 10-percent cut would likely lead to unavoidable layoffs during bad economic times. He also warned the county’s credit rating could suffer.
“If passed by voters, the charter amendment would allocate funds to be spent in a number of broad categories, including youth development programs, job training for low-income communities, access to capital for minority-owned businesses, rent assistance and affordable housing, community-based health services and jail diversion programs,” FOX 11 reported.
Last week, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva warned the board that cuts to his department’s $3.4 billion budget would cause him to close at least two patrol stations, though he added he would not have to lay off any deputies.
‘Defund police’ measures have been passed or promoted in Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, New York City, and Los Angeles so far following the death of George Floyd in May.
But not all black Americans are in favor of the effort.
Sabrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin and a candidate for Miami Dade County Commissioner District 1, said in June that cities should be adding officers amid rising crime and civil unrest.
Also, several black residents in Harlem told an interview in late June they supported police and did not want to see the NYPD leave their community, even though scores of white liberals who didn’t live in Harlem said they backed the ‘defund’ effort.
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