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LAPD Chief: Recommended Budget Cuts Will 'Destroy Public Safety' As Gun Violence Soars

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Saturday marked the eighth year of the gun buyback program held by Mayor Garcetti's office and run by the LAPD.

The program was hosted at three locations across Los Angeles from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"I really had no need for them so I just thought I'd get a little extra cash for the holidays," said Jeffrey Bailey, a Gardena resident who participated in the program on Saturday.

People can anonymously turn in firearms in exchange for gift cards valued at $100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles and $200 for assault weapons as classified by the state of California, while supplies last, the LAPD said.

The LAPD uses the annual ''Gun Buy Back'' program to help reduce gun violence in the city and rally the community around the drive to take more guns off the streets and improve security in communities.

"Reducing the number of shooting victims in Los Angeles has never been more important to the safety of all Angelenos,'' Chief Michel Moore said. "Every gun recovered in this 'Buy Back' program means one less weapon that can be used to inflict harm.''

At the buyback drive-thru on Saturday, Moore said that the program was needed this year more than ever.

"We've seen an increase in gun violence this year," he said. "We've seen an increase in guns being stolen from homes..."

In Los Angeles, gun violence has increased by 29% compared to last year, with 311 lives lost. More than 1,100 have been shot as a result of gun violence.

"There's a lot of tension in our communities," Moore said. "Turmoil and stress, lost jobs, lost livelihoods, and it's just a terrible combination."

Moore also said that the alarming rise in recent crime is part of why he believes that the city's budget cuts cannot solely come from his department.

"Those types of cuts are beyond devastation," he said. "It would destroy public safety in this city. Those are numbers we've had in staffing that go back more than 25 years when homicides were 600 in a year."

But with revenue down citywide, budget analysts recommended steep cuts yesterday, including the elimination of 1,900 city jobs — half of them coming from the police department.

"We have stations that would be closed, jails that would be closed..." Moore said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also attended the gun buyback drive-thru, said that revenue has fallen greatly, but public safety is still of utmost importance to him.

"The revenues aren't there, the economy is down but public safety has to be our first priority," he said. "Washington DC can take action this week. Nobody in Congress should go home for Christmas until they've passed a relief measure."

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