The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to cut hiring at the LAPD, pushing the number of sworn officers well below 10,000 and abandoning a budget priority once seen as untouchable by city leaders.

Faced with a grim budget outlook and deluged by demands for reductions in police spending, the council voted 12 to 2 to take the Los Angeles Police Department down to 9,757 officers by next summer — a level of staffing not seen in the city since 2008, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Overall, the council’s decision delivered a $150-million hit to the LAPD budget, much of it coming from funds earmarked for police overtime pay. Councilman Curren Price, who pushed for the cuts, said two-thirds of the savings would ultimately be funneled into services for Black, Latino and disenfranchised communities, such as hiring programs and summer youth jobs.

Still, the $150-million cut to the LAPD fell far short of demands from Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and their allies, who had pushed for a “People’s Budget” that would effectively eliminate police spending and redirect the savings to housing, mental health services and other needs.

“That is literally pocket change,” said Rebecca Kessler, a resident of Van Nuys who called in to the council this week. “It’s a slap in the face. You need to defund the police, take way more money, put way more money into these programs.”

Council members have begun exploring ways of diverting many calls for help — those that involve nonviolent incidents — away from the LAPD and to other city workers. Council members voted this week to direct city staffers to come up with an “unarmed model of crisis response” for further review.

 

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