By Manny Otiko | IVN
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has made solving the homelessness crisis a major part of her agenda. In her budget, she dedicated $1.3 billion to homelessness. However, she is also interested in another form of public safety and that is boosting the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD.) Bass announced she plans to hire hundreds of new officers and restore the LAPD’s ranks to about 9,500. The department has lost about 1,000 officers since 2019.
In her budget announcement, she said the city will offer financial incentives for new officers such as a $15,000 signing bonus. The city will also offer $2,000 bonuses to city employees who refer a police officer to sign up.
“We are proposing increasing the police force, and it will cause tensions on the City Council,” said Bass in a press conference. “But I am confident that our City Council, that we will be able to overcome those tensions.”
Los Angeles police has a fraught relationship with minority communities because of scandals such as the Rodney King beating and high-level police corruption, such as gangs operating in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
Some members of the L.A. City Council are not happy with Bass’ approach. They would rather spend resources on social programs, instead of hiring new police officers.
Progressive activist Eunisses Hernandez feels resources would be better spent on social welfare programs.
Hernandez recently won election to the council. In previous interviews, she has declared herself an abolitionist, who would like to reduce police funding.
“Yes, I am an abolitionist and what does it mean? We don’t leave people behind. We don’t build things we’ll have to destroy in the future and we don’t give more money and power to the systems that have been harming us… I’ve been pigeonholed into this box of, oh you’re a police abolitionist. But it’s bigger than that,” said Hernandez in an ABC-7 interview.
Hernandez said she wasn’t in favor of throwing more money at the police department.
“When you’re saying defund the police and people are getting upset, that is an opportunity to have a conversation, to let them know yes, we’ve given them a ton of money and still we have harm and violence. So, let’s talk about what prevents harm and violence,” she said.
Black Lives Matter-LA are also abolitionists, like Hernandez. The organization plans to meet with Bass to present “the People’s Budget.”
UCLA assistant professor Dr. David C. Turner is skeptical of increased police spending.
“The safest communities aren’t the ones with most police; they’re the one with the most resources,” said Turner in a Twitter post. “Even prior to the murder of #GeorgeFloyd, even prior to the pandemic, even now…people want to spend on mental health, housing, and the things that actually make communities safe. They don’t want to spend on police.”