LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles City Council's Budget and Finance Committee agreed Monday to cut $133 million from the police department's budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with money expected to be used in part to limit furloughs of municipal employees.
The committee was originally set to consider up to $150 million in police cuts, but reduced that number by about $17 million to fund costs related to technology improvements and maintain the Los Angeles Police Department's civilian employee numbers.
If approved by the full council, the money cut from LAPD's budget would be used to replenish the city's general fund reserve and prevent three months of planned citywide furloughs due to shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with the remainder going into an unassigned balance.
The original intent of the LAPD cuts was to fund programs and services to assist underserved areas of the city and communities of color.
Councilman Curren Price made a motion to cut the full $150 million originally proposed and to put it directly toward helping communities of color, although he conceded that halting municipal furloughs would ensure city services continue for all communities.
"We are in the need of immediate action now," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to take a bold step in a policy shift that we know is necessary."
As for funding allocations, he said he would be in favor of "broad-based input from the community and all stakeholders, but we've got to act now."
Price's motion was defeated on a 3-2 vote.
The budget cuts came in response to a growing movement calling for the defunding of law enforcement agencies. Some community groups, such as those advocating for the People's Budget L.A., have called for a major slashing of the budget by as much as 90% and completely rethinking the role of law enforcement.
But Councilman Paul Koretz said he opposed making drastic cuts in police funding until alternative public safety plans were in place.
"I do think that there are other ways to deal with a lot of 911 calls and a lot of the other services, and ... right now, we're on the cusp of reimagining all of that in a productive way," Koretz said.
During Monday's committee meeting, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said while he was encouraged by the movement to alter the way police or other unarmed authorities respond to certain incident, he felt there needed to be an operational response team in place before significant cuts could be made.
According to Moore, LAPD is slated to furlough 1,950 civilian employees for one day each pay period, which he said amounted to the loss of about 190 employees. He also said a hiring freeze would reduce the department's civilian force by another 130 positions. Combined, Moore said those changes would amount to 320 fewer full-time civilian positions — or 10% of the department's civilian staff.
Moore also suggested closing certain jails staffed by LAPD officers that do not have the inmate population of other county jails or LAPD facilities.
"In the absence of civilian officers, I cannot see those jails continuing," he said.
The committee also voted 4-1 in favor of having the City Administrative Officer's staff report back with further recommendations on how funds cut from the LAPD budget should be spent.
The budget must be approved by the council and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti by June 30.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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