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Despite Protests, LA Officials Give More Power to LAPD

A lot of shit happened this week. We tried to keep up.

Mayor Eric Garcetti (source: Wikimedia Commons)

On Tuesday this week, Mayor Garcetti announced that he would be expanding the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) program and establishing a new bureau to oversee it.

As he said in a press release:

“Today we take a major step forward in our work to reimagine policing in Los Angeles and strengthen the human bonds that are essential to public safety. Every Angeleno deserves to feel secure not only in the parks and streets of their neighborhoods but in the presence of people in uniform — and expanding CSP will help to make that possible.”

The expansion of any LAPD program, at a time when activists are calling for abolition and the defunding of the department, hardly sounds like “reimagining public safety,” and it’s not. This is not reimagining at all — this is an expansion of the LAPD rebranded with the co-opted language of the current movement.

CSP was first launched in 2011 as a collaboration between the LAPD, the Housing Authority and the city’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. It involves officers working in one community for five years so that they can better form relationships with the community. According to the LAPD, Officers attend community meetings and put on education and youth-led programs including football teams, girl scouts, and camping trips.

These programs, according to Dr. Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter- LA, should not be run by cops; they should be run by educators, youth workers, and interventionists. BLM-LA, according to a statement released this week, opposes this expansion of LAPD and calls out the Mayor’s appropriation of their language: “…it was hugely disrespectful for the mayor to appropriate our call to reimagine public safety. Spending more on police is not what is meant.”

While the LAPD points to a UCLA study released this year that has shown CSP to be successful, this study is problematic for many reasons, one being that it was partially funded by the same organizations that paid to expand the program in 2017.

In addition, a press release for the study acknowledges that there was mixed support for CSP from the community.

However, the qualitative analysis of these community members in the full study is rather…limited, repeating, multiple times, that “there are some people who support the program, and some who do not,” without actually lifting up the voices of those who did not support the program. Many community members also noted that the program failed to address the people most at risk (older children and young adults).

UCLA CSP Evaluation Report, Page 66–67

In fact, in the case of one housing development (of the two they surveyed), Black residents’ voices were not even represented.

UCLA CSP Evaluation Report, Page 84

This pull quote about confusion around the program’s objectives was rather telling:

UCLA CSP Evaluation Report, Page 53

And finally, another study found that while there may have been a decrease in crime in at least one of the housing projects where CSP was, it’s unclear that CSP was the direct cause of that decrease.

Mayor Garcetti is not the only Los Angeles politician expanding the power of LAPD at a time when thousands are in the street demanding for change. City Council also voted this Tuesday to resume sweeping on homeless encampments, despite CDC guidelines recommending otherwise (Councilmembers Bonin, Harris-Dawson, Ryu, and Wesson voted against resuming sweeps).

A process, again, led by the LAPD, which entails the complete trashing of unhoused people’s belongings.

Perhaps one of the most alarming pieces of news to come out this week is retaliation against LAPD and city officials calling for change. We learned this week that not only was an LAPD SWAT sergeant retaliated against for calling out violent force within the department, but a supervisor from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) was fired for circulating a petition calling for the department to cut ties with LAPD.

Finally, the Los Angeles Police Protection League created a website to antagonize a city council member critical of their funding.

The events of this week continue to make clear the fact that in order for real change for Angelenos, the LAPD and LA Sheriff’s Department (which, it turns out, is overrun by departmental gangs with no oversight) must be defunded, not simply renamed.

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