LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles could soon have an Office of Unarmed Response and Safety to streamline efforts to respond to non-violent situations with a services-led approach rather than armed police officers, under a motion introduced Wednesday by seven council members.
The effort, led by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, would build on previous council plans to create unarmed crisis-response models despite his calls for more police after an uptick in violent crimes in his district.
A motion introduced in the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody called for non-violent calls to be diverted from the Los Angeles Police Department. The goal of Wednesday’s motion — also supported by Council President Nury Martinez and members Monica Rodriguez, Kevin de León, Bob Blumenfield, Curren Price and Nithya Raman, is to unite existing initiatives and implement a citywide unarmed response model.
“Since our original motion in summer 2020, our goal has always been to establish a coordinated, long-term solution for unarmed crisis response — one that uses our police for appropriate situations and not a catch-all for every issue,” Martinez said. “We’ve seen that new, innovative programs struggle from a lack of coordination within the city’s existing efforts and services. By creating this office, we can ensure that all crisis response efforts can collaboratively deliver Angelenos the services they need so that we can become a safer Los Angeles for all.”
The office would ensure around-the-clock coordination and deployment of unarmed response specialists to non-violent calls for service, as well as collaboration with 911 dispatchers, and seek to address barriers for serving high-need communities by improving coordination between agencies, according to the motion. The office would also incorporate the various related models and pilot programs currently deployed in the city.
According to O’Farrell’s office, the city lacks a “comprehensive response framework” and accountability metrics for unarmed response.
“With a dedicated office to consistently track successes, coordinate and identify funding for these programs, the city will be able to advance long- term, streamlined efforts in unarmed crisis response,” O’Farrell’s office stated.
Price said that reimagining public safety won’t happen overnight, but establishing the office would “solidify the long-term results we all want to see; a system built on compassion, fairness and transparency.”
“The idea of Reimagining Public Safety was never meant to be a tagline or a way to pacify the heartache constantly felt within Black and Brown communities,” Price said. “It was a promise to Angelenos that they have been seen and heard by city leaders to challenge the status quo, abolish disparities and implement change. Coming together as a collective body and one voice shows the strength and commitment toward seeing this through.”
2UrbanGirls contributed to this report.