Police Commission approves additional funding and training plan for LAPD


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The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday approved a police department’s $ 18.5 million plan to improve the way it handles protests and civil unrest, but city council will need to approve the increased funding.

The Los Angeles Police Department – which has a budget of $ 1.76 billion for this fiscal year – originally submitted a proposal asking for an additional $ 66.7 million to incorporate 106 recommendations from three reports that found the department had mismanaged aspects of its response to last year’s protests against racism and the police. brutality following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The original request was reduced to $ 18.5 million when the police commission asked the LAPD to reassess its recommendations and the cost.

All three reports were released in March and April and found common themes of lack of preparation, training and unity of command.

The new proposal provides nearly $ 12.6 million for training, with the top two priorities being the training of mobile field forces and the use of less lethal launchers, for which reports revealed officers were not properly trained and, in some circumstances, used against peaceful protesters.

The report called on all officers in the department to receive mobile field force training every two years, with half of the department being trained one year and the other half the following year. Much of the funding for training is for officers’ overtime, so they don’t reduce patrolling duties.

The ministry’s proposed recommendations also include more than $ 4.1 million for technology and equipment, including four agents and four intelligence analysts to form a new social media monitoring team. The budget would also allow for the purchase of social media software. Commander Randy Goddard told the police commission that social media software is helping the department “because of the sheer volume of information on so many platforms, channels, apps and services.”

“The software helps a small group of trained personnel verify and make sense of this information,” Goddard said.

LAPD’s use of social media has already attracted some criticism. The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit think tank based at New York University Law School, reported on September 8 that the department broadly allows its agents to collect data on social media from people. people they interact with on patrol. He also found that the department is about to start using a new social media monitoring tool called Media Sonar, which identifies connections between people and creates individual profiles using data from 300 sources with 2 billion records.

Brian Hofer, who chairs the Oakland Privacy Advisory Board, joined the committee meeting and said the department should create guardrails to prevent the software from being used at home. misuse.

“Products like Media Sonar and Dataminr are not harmless. They can be extremely intrusive on our privacy and civil liberties interests because they provide analytical tools, which is what you buy, ”said Hofer. “Sufficient safeguards need to be in place to distinguish between tracking people simply because they use the hashtag BLM versus an organizer for the Proud Boys saying ‘show up with baseball bats and a bag of bricks “… this is where you need to be able to draw these lines with input from the community to make sure the use is appropriate.

Goddard said the department will work to establish guardrails in an update to its 2015 social media guide, and Hofer said the department should report periodically to the commission on the use of the products. .

The reduction from the original request of $ 66.7 million was made available to the public on Friday afternoon, which drew some criticism as it only left one business day for people to review it before. to submit public comments to the commission.

Both proposals met with opposition from activists calling for a continued decrease in the LAPD budget. Following the scaled-down proposal released on Friday, activists reiterated their opposition to any additional funding for the LAPD.

“This is yet another grab of money from the police, using LAPD violence to increase police resources and spy powers,” said the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. “This is the opposite of what our communities faced the LAPD violence last summer to demand: police funding.”

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, the Los Angeles Community Action Network, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, White People 4 Black Lives and the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles signed a letter to the police board urging them to reject the proposal and to commit to reducing the LAPD budget.

“Now is the time to stop developing an institution that continues to harm our communities. The interpersonal harm our communities face has been produced by years of police consuming more and more resources that could instead be used for housing, health care, education and other investments that actually provide safety. and people’s health, ”the letter said.

Commissioner Eileen Decker has responded to these concerns.

“I understand that there are a lot of people who think the money shouldn’t be spent in this department, that it should go elsewhere,” Decker said. “I understand that the city needs to invest in community resources, but I also believe that the city needs to invest in the department, as well as in these training procedures. I don’t think these issues are mutually exclusive.

Police Commission approves additional funding and training plan for LAPD was last modified: September 28, 2021 through Contributing editor

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