355 Police officers and 273 civilian employees are being targeted by the Los Angeles City council for layoff to help close the city deficit. The city is also undergoing a significant increase in crime, both homicides and property crime, coupled with an increase in the homeless population to over 60,000 in LA County. The city has already cut the LAPD budget by $150M back in July, but they are seeking more.
With this backdrop, The Police Protective League is trying to raise $10m from its rank-and-file members to fight the cutbacks and support more favorable Council candidates in 2022. They are doing that by asking its members to donate $22 per paycheck for the next 48 weeks. The Metropolitan Division serving downtown LA has already been dramatically reduced and the Gang Division virtually eliminated. Some politicians are calling for a reduction of 1000 police officers, while neighborhood activists are insisting on a 90% reduction in force. We elected a new District Attorney, one who has espoused massive reductions in the jail population. This means that even with the Police Dept doing its best, many perpetrators will be quickly released and back on the streets to continue their bad habits.
This has been a long tough year for everyone with both a fractious election and a Pandemic. We are now almost to the New Year as I write this Perspective. We should now pause and give thanks. We have received a welcome Christmas gift to the world with the arrival of the vaccine.
We need to find a way to stabilize our situation and it is going to take some give and take between the City and the Police Protective League. The treatment of George Floyd and several other questionable actions by police around the country need to find a resolution that does not gut every police department. That solution must involve all police/sheriff departments along with congressional/state legislation to provide more focused training and better-defined laws and protocols for what constitutes police responsibility. There needs to be a substantial increase in funding for mental health practitioners, hospitals, and drug rehabilitation.
These changes will be tough to accomplish in cities and states where we have had one-party rule for 20 years or more. There must be an end to the conflict in the streets and a resurrection of responsibility and quality education in all our schools. There needs to be an end to the blame game and a projection of positive and hopeful results that need to be achieved. The political parties need to recruit their new registrants from all facets of our society. It is time for the far left and the far right to disappear into history as failed beacons.
With all that said, what can we as an industry do to be a positive force to bring about these needed changes? First, we need to support our law enforcement brethren by assisting them to raise, not $10m, but many times that amount. Not just to elect the right council candidates in the city of Los Angeles, but the right candidates, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, throughout each municipality in the state, and eventually, the nation. We must continue to support SIAC so that we don’t find the rules and regulations, under which we manage our businesses, altered to reduce our effectiveness. Each of our members and Chapters should nominate a Police Liaison person to meet regularly with their local law enforcement officers to build on our relationship. We must go out into our communities and speak up about what we do as a profession and how we help protect each other We must continue to grow and professionalize our training programs and expand them to ensure we include all the diverse segments of our society. And, for our police brethren, it is time to speak out, write letters and tell the world that these misguided defunding efforts must cease. It is time to come out from behind our desks and computers to communicate our concerns and participate in the solutions.
Tony Smith is a Past President of the CAA and a former member of the Board of ESA. He is the Founder, President, and CEO of Security Funding Associates, a leading industry financial services firm. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (855) 723-2229.