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Proposals To ‘Defund The Police’ Gain Traction In La County

Courtesy Yahoo Sports

 

BY BALA THENAPPAN • JULY 9, 2020

The “defund the police” movement has inspired police reform proposals across California, particularly in LA County. 

Last week, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion, issued by board members Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis, that proposes an investigation of how AB109 funds can be reallocated. 

AB109, passed by the state legislature in 2011 to limit the population of California’s state prisons, provides counties with funding to handle people convicted of non-violent, non-sexual, and non-serious crimes. 

According to the motion from Hahn and Solis, LA County – like most other counties in California – spends the majority of its AB-109 funding on the sheriff’s department and probation department. LA County is expected to receive $358.3 million of AB-109 funds this year. 

The motion proposes an investigation of “options for reallocating future AB 109 Community Corrections base allocation funds towards alternatives to incarceration, including, but not limited to, diversion programs, substance abuse programs, mental health treatment, housing, restorative justice programs, and community-based services.”

In a statement sent to the Cerritos Community News, Solis described alternatives to incarceration as “humane” and “cost effective in the long run.”

On June 23rd, Solis also introduced a motion that calls for the creation of a plan to shut down Men’s Central Jail. 

In the past, county officials have described the conditions of Men’s Central Jail as overcrowded and abysmal. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and then-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca endorsed a recommendation to shut down the prison in 2 years. 

In her motion, Solis proposed using the money saved by closing Men’s Central to invest into the county’s  “most disenfranchised communities” and to increase “access to basic needs and the county’s system of care, to further reduce the county’s historic reliance on its jail system to meet its residents’ health and service-related needs.”

LA County CEO Sachi Hamai, anticipating $935.3 million dollars worth of revenue losses for LA County because of the coronavirus pandemic, recommended over $140 million cuts in funding for the sheriff’s department’s budget in his revised 2020-2021 budget proposal. In the proposal, Hamai said the cuts could result in over 340 layoffs.

Specific areas of the Sheriff’s Department that would be curtailed under the revised budget are “Operation Safe Streets” (aimed at gangs), the “Major Crimes Bureau”, the “Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau”, and the “Special Victims Bureau” (aimed at physical/sexual assault). 

In a statement posted on Twitter, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva accused Hamai of “balancing the entire county budget on the back of the LASD.” Citing rising crime rates in New York and Chicago, Villanueva added that law enforcement services are especially important at this moment. 

The Cerritos City Council also plans to cut spending on policing. In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Cerritos spent $16,103,230 on “police and safety services.” The proposed budget for 2020-2021 allocates $15,682,580 for the same services. 

“Safety of our residents is a prime concern,” said Cerritos Councilman Frank Yokoyama, “that’s why I fought to keep the Sheriff’s budget intact when others wanted to cut it. The reduction is a  reflection of Captain Dinh’s recommendation of cutting one deputy and saving $500,000 without a reduction of police services or a loss of the deputy’s job.”

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