The Los Angeles City Council approved a proposal to create an unarmed crisis response team to respond to nonviolent emergency 911 calls, instead of Los Angeles Police Department officers.
The measure, which passed 14-0 on Wednesday (October 14) allows the city to seek non-profit partners to implement the unarmed crisis response pilot program. The “unarmed proposal” also creates a new classification of city employees who will respond to nonviolent 911 calls.
The pilot program enables 911 operators to dispatch nonviolent calls to contracted service providers and specialists who will respond to mental health crises, substance abuse incidents, suicide threats and behavioral distress. The contracted professionals will also provide conflict resolution services and welfare checks.
"Calling the police on George Floyd about an alleged counterfeit $20 bill ended his life," said Los Angeles City Council member Herb Wesson Jr. "If he had been met with unarmed, trained specialists for the nonviolent crime he was accused of, George Floyd would be turning 47 years old today. This plan will save lives."
City Council President Nury Martinez said the pilot program will be seen as a major step to provide mental health and other support services from trained professionals directly to Black and brown communities in Los Angeles, stating it will also free up police resources so LAPD officers can respond to more potentially violent matters.
“For too long, sworn LAPD officers have been asked to handle nonviolent calls that shouldn't require an armed presence and frankly eat up valuable time and resources the LAPD could spend on stopping and preventing actual crimes," said council member Bob Blumenfield. "By creating a robust non-armed crisis response model, we are investing in the future of our public safety."
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