Los Angeles leaders say they will change city's police culture

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched a new bureau within the Los Angeles Police Department to train the force in community policing.

Police Chief Michael Moore said at a Monday night virtual press conference that the move will not expand the police budget, which experienced a $150 million cut to its fiscal 2020-21 budget, nor will it involve hiring more officers.

This model represents a pivot away from a containment and a suppression model to community policing, Moore said.

"This is a moment that demands we do more," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti reversed course on the budget in May, proposing cuts to the police budget following protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Police and fire budgets had continued to grow even through the Great Recession though other city departments faced steep cuts.

The police department came under fire from many quarters for its conduct during the protests, accused of initiating violence against peaceful protestors while looking the other way as criminals ransacked shops and stores.

The Community Safety Partnership Bureau expands an 11-year old program originally targeted at gang-riddled and impoverished communities where distrust of police ran high.

Emada Tingirides, the captain who ran the CSP program, will be promoted to deputy chief and will run the new bureau.

“This is one of those moments that demands we do more,” Garcetti said. “We are drawing from a reservoir of programs in Los Angeles that have been leading the nation.”

A succession of city leaders have said they have been reforming the police department for decades, responding to crises like the 1991 Rodney King beating and the late 1990s Rampart corruption scandal. Some of that was ordered by a federal judge, according to the mayor, council members and Moore, who all spoke at the press conference.

"This department is no stranger to evolution," said City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who heads the City Council's public safety committee.

"Public service is a privilege whether they are elected or sworn," Rodriguez said. "We find ourselves in a moment, rightfully impatient and angry about what we have seen unfold across the country."

Today, LAPD is 70% women and people of color, said City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former police officer. "LAPD has done an incredible job of transforming following the federal decree after the Rampart scandal."

The Rampart scandal involved widespread police corruption in an anti-gang unit.

"Community policing is the reason why I joined LAPD," Buscaino said. "I believe our cops should be guardians, not warriors."

All at the press conference wore masks that they removed once at the podium before speaking. The mayor stepped forward and sprayed off the microphone and podium with sanitizer before each person stepped forward to speak.

The mayor and the City Council are also planning to set aside $250 million in new spending for community and youth development programs in communities of color that would include the $150 million in cuts to the police department, according to the mayor’s office.

The expansion of the CSP program was partly sparked by recommendations that came out of a report released by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in April.

“The new bureau makes CSP both a program and a policy,” Garcetti said. “It’s a new approach to how we police.

“To quote Connie Rice, it’s moving from a warrior mentality to a guardian mentality,” Garcetti said, referring to an editorial Rice penned for the Los Angeles Times in early June. Rice, a former member of President Barack Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, is a civil rights attorney and the author of “Power Concedes Nothing.”

Rice, who also spoke, called the change significant.

“This is big,” Rice said. “In the police world, a chief doesn’t just stand up and create a bureau that is for guardian policing. I want to thank the chief for having the courage to do this.”

“This is the future of policing,” Rice said. “The CSP program was noted by President Obama in his report on 21st century policing.”

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