Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martínez announced the approval of a proposal to launch an unarmed crisis team to respond to non-violent 911 calls.
On Wednesday, the LA City Council unanimously approved the measure, which will include partnering with a non-profit organization to implement the program, according to WRCB. The decision stemmed from the recent outcry for justice after George Floyd’s tragic killing in May.
Martínez announced the game-changing initiative, which is modeled after Oregon’s CAHOOTS program, on Twitter.
“Today marks a seminal moment in LA history w/ the Council approving our plan to create an #UnarmedResponseTeam for non-violent police calls. TY to our #Black & #Brown impacted communities 4 sharing direct feedback and your voice w us to create this policy,” she wrote.
Today marks a seminal moment in LA history w/ the Council approving our plan to create an #UnarmedResponseTeam for non-violent police calls. TY to our #Black & #Brown impacted cmnties 4 sharing direct feedback and your voice w us to create this policy. #reimagingpublicsafety
— Nury Martinez (@CD6Nury) October 14, 2020
Councilman Bob Blumenfield echoed the sentiment telling WRCB that non-violent situations shouldn't be a police officer’s responsibility.
“For too long, sworn LAPD officers have been asked to handle non-violent calls that shouldn’t require an armed presence and frankly eat up valuable time and resources the LAPD could spend on stopping and preventing actual crimes,” Blumenfield said. “By creating a robust nonarmed crisis response model, we are investing in the future of our public safety.”
Another council member addressed the loss of life due to police involvement and feels the program will deter unnecessary violence against Black and Brown people.
“Calling the police on George Floyd about an alleged counterfeit $20 bill ended his life,” Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson Jr. told WRCB. “If he had been met with unarmed, trained specialists for the non-violent crime he was accused of, George Floyd would be turning 47 years old today. This plan will save lives.”
The motion presented by six council members, including Wesson, Jr., in June attributed financial cuts to social services antagonized an already tumultuous relationship with police officers.
"[LAPD was] the only solution for problems they should not be called on to solve in the first place," Wesson Jr. said.
The new program would replace law enforcement with social workers, who are better equipped to handle non-violent civilian matters.
On Twitter, Wesson, Jr. called the initiative the "dawn of a new era of public safety" in the city.
“The Los Angeles City Council has just approved the first step in our plan to replace LAPD with a community-based, unarmed emergency responder for non-violent calls for service. This is the dawn of a new era of public safety in Los Angeles,” he wrote.
The Los Angeles City Council has just approved the first step in our plan to replace LAPD with a community-based, unarmed emergency responders for non-violent calls for service. This is the dawn of a new era of public safety in Los Angeles.
— Herb J. Wesson, Jr. (@HerbJWesson) June 30, 2020
The new plan will also allow homeless outreach and medical workers to handle specific situations like non-violent emergency calls such as mental health crises, disputes between neighbors and substance abuse calls.