Embed from Getty Images

After being appointed president of the Los Angeles Police Department’s civilian oversight panel on Tuesday, attorney William Briggs promptly rejected the notion that the LAPD should be “defunded,” arguing instead that it needs more sworn officers to keep the city safe.

“Our communities of color that are most impacted by crime, many of which have seen the homicide rate rise above 30% this year, cannot afford to go without law enforcement,” Briggs said in prepared remarks, which he delivered after unanimous appointment by his Police Commission colleagues.

Briggs, who is Black and a partner at the law firm Venable, was nominated to the commission by Mayor Eric Garcetti in November, joined the panel in December and had been serving as its vice president before Tuesday’s vote, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Although the Police Commission does not directly control the LAPD’s budget or staffing levels, it does set policy and approve certain spending. It also wields significant sway over LAPD brass, as its members approve the appointment of the chief.

Briggs’ swift dismissal of the “defund the police” movement comes as homicides and shootings have surged in the city to levels not seen in a decade and as the LAPD tries to rebound after losing hundreds of officers — dropping from more than 10,000 sworn cops to fewer than 9,500 because of a hiring freeze spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial toll on city coffers.