LOS ANGELES—City leaders voted Wednesday to slash the Los Angeles Police Department budget by $150 million, reducing the number of officers to a level not seen for more than a decade amid nationwide demands to shift money away from law enforcement agencies.
About two-thirds of the funding was earmarked for police overtime and will be used to provide services and programs for communities of color, including a youth summer jobs program. The City Council’s 12-2 vote will drop the number of officers from 9,988 as of last month to 9,757 by next summer, abandoning a goal of 10,000 officers only reached in 2013.
Other cities around the country also have cut police budgets or are moving to do so, including a move in Minneapolis to disband the city’s force. New York City lawmakers approved an austere budget Wednesday that will cut $1 billion from the NYPD budget and move it to education and social services in the coming year. In California, liberal Berkeley passed a budget Wednesday that cuts $9.2 million from police, while Oakland leaders last week slashed $14.6 million from law enforcement and they are considering steeper reductions.
The Los Angeles vote reduces the LAPD’s nearly $2 billion budget. Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti had earlier proposed increasing it in April to help preserve the staffing level of 10,000 officers.
There was no immediate comment from the LAPD.
Police Chief Michel Moore wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night that “we remain as resolved as ever to the conversation around reform, and continuing to walk forward together.”
“The success of the city’s future is grounded in bridging the divide, and we will never stop working to do just that,” he added.
In a statement last month, Moore had said the cut would require “a top-to-bottom assessment, including how we go about our most basic operations” and said the department already had begun to identify potential cost savings and service reductions.
The move comes a day after the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to cut its school police budget by a third. The $70 million budget for the force of more than 470 officers will be reduced by about $25 million and the money dedicated to “support African American student achievement to the extent of the law,” according to the resolution.
Some 65 officers will be laid off and nearly 40 vacant positions won’t be filled, Police Chief Todd Chamberlain told the school board. He resigned Wednesday.
The school board also called for officers to give up their uniforms and patrol off campus. Board President Richard Vladovic opposed the move on safety grounds, urging a delay.
“We’re walking right into this without knowing where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there,” Vladovic said.
The LAPD cut was part of a budget modification measure for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that comes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Months of social distancing measures, including closing many businesses, have left the city with a drastically reduced tax revenue and a potential shortfall of $45 million to $409 million, according to finance department estimates.