LAPD Topanga Station Captain Francis Boateng, Councilman Bob Blumenfield and Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton all addressed residents at a Police Advisory Board Meeting.
Contract negotiations are going on this month, and not just between writers and studios. The Los Angeles City Council is currently in discussion with the police union on a new contract that has tentatively been agreed upon by both council and police union organizers. It goes to members for a vote, then back to the council and the mayor for approval.
LAPD takes between 18% and 30% of the entire city budget, depending on whether you take into account pensions and benefits, etc.
“The number agreed on will ‘blow a big hole’ in the city budget,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield told the Topanga Station Community Police Advisory Board Wednesday Night. “But we are in crisis mode. We’re bleeding officers and recruitment is down.”
Crime is one of the biggest issues in the city and the west valley, and LAPD in total should have between 11 to 12,000 officers, but has a realistic goal of 10,000, which isn’t enough.
Topanga Station Captain Francis Boateng said, “We’re spread too thin. But we will always respond to a crime because we’re in the ‘keeping you safe business.’”
Valley violent crime is down 6% this year, though hate crimes are up 250%.
Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton, Commanding Officer of LAPD Operations for the entire valley, also at the meeting, concurred with Boateng. “I don’t care about statistics. I care about the people. Anyone involved in a crime will be investigated and arrested.”
The issue of alternative policing for non-criminal activities was discussed. A majority of 911 calls are related to mental health issues, and 25% are welfare checks, which could be addressed by outside experts such as social workers, freeing officers to do actual crime fighting.
Blumemfield said that in the last 20 years the police department has been asked to do more and more because they are available 24/7. “We need to figure out outsourcing,” he said.
Blumenfield stated that the city has actually set aside $15 million for alternative intervention, though none of it is earmarked for the valley yet.
The importance of the current contract negotiations was made clear. A bigger budget for LAPD means they can hire more officers, pay new recruits more and keep them on the force.
Questions were also raised with regards to the overwhelming homeless and criminal activity.
Hamilton responded that LAPD will always address criminal activity, saying, “You don’t get a pass on violence or drug dealing if you’re homeless.” However, he said that being homeless itself wasn’t a crime, and the Mayor’s Homeless Task Force is in charge of actually moving homeless from encampments.
The officers both discussed the issue of zero bail and lack of prosecution, which leads to more criminal behavior, with Hamilton saying, “Our responsibility is to submit a thorough investigation. Once we’ve arrested them, it’s 100% out of the control of the police department.”
Both pointed to voters, saying lack of prosecution is a court and district attorney issue. Boateng said, “You the people control who makes the decisions. You vote for the judges, district attorneys and politicians. Be a vocal majority and let your voices be heard.”