Mental Illness and Drug Abuse are not police functions

Dennis Zine
Former Los Angeles City Councilman and Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant.

I joined the LAPD in 1968 and served for 33 years before retiring and moving onto a political career as an elected L.A. City Councilman.  Now, I look back at my experiences and compare them to what is happening today in America and in particular Los Angeles.  The LAPD has come under attack from certain community groups and local politicians demanding that funding be reduced to the Department and the funding go to a variety of  community programs in minority communities.  

Mayor Garcetti who recently called police officers “Killers” pushed for reduced LAPD funding and was supported by the vast majority of the City’s Councilmembers.  The impact has been significant in examining the current LAPD Citywide Profile.  As of August 22, 2020, the LAPD is staffed with 9,904 sworn police officers.  That number is down from the June 6, 2020 number of 9,998 officers.  That is a reduction of 94 Officers.  How many officers are now missing from your neighborhood and how long will you have to wait for police response when you phone 911 ?   

In a meeting with L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfield from District 3, we discussed LAPD operations and current funding.  The Councilman is a supporter of Public Safety and the LAPD.  While the councilman recognizes the many funding needs of the city from street services to sanitation and everything from the Airport to the Zoo, he realizes that certain budget restraints are needed due to reduced revenues caused by the closure of many business and lack of sales tax and other city revenues. 

The Councilman is working on reducing a number of current LAPD responsibilities and passing them along to other agencies.  This will relieve police officers from dealing with the Homeless population and all that goes along with that challenge that Mayor Garcetti has totally failed to remedy with the millions of dollars that have been generated to address the situation.  It is such a disaster that the County of Los Angeles is now looking at reconsidering the structure of the Homeless Services Agency!

While LAPD salaries and benefits have not been impacted, moving some of the current LAPD responsibilities to other agencies may be a benefit for both the community and police personnel.  Mental Illness and Drug Abuse is not a police function.  Various crimes associated with Metal Illness and Drug users are a police function.  That will remain a police matter in spite of the lax laws dealing with both issues.  L.A. County has a $50 million – dollar budget for the San Fernando Valley to deal with Mental Illness and Drug Abuse.  Those dollars need to be reviewed to make sure they are being spent wisely and impacting the problems associated with those in need of assistance.                       

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