UPDATE: LAUSD Board Votes Against Cutting Police Funding by 90%

Rebekah Sager
June 24, 2020 - 8:17 am

    Tuesday afternoon a seven-member L.A. Board of Education group voted on whether or not to eliminate the LAPD from schools beginning July 1, 2021, or keep them on campus. 

    But in an emotionally charged vote Tuesday night, the board opted to reject a proposal that would have cut the Police Department's budget by 90% in 2024. 

    Board member Monica Garcia called for the School Police budget to be reduced by slowly -- starting with a 50% in the 2021-22 fiscal year, then 75% the following year and eventually 90% in the following year, with funds redirected to the "highest-need schools in support of African American students."

    "Today calls on us to do something more," Garcia said.  "I don't fool myself for one minute that this is the solution to everything."

    Activists who support total elimination of school police contend that Black youth represent less than 9% of the district's student body but account for a quarter of all arrests, a statistic reported by the Million Dollar Hoods Project at UCLA.

    The other side of the emotionally charged argument included many parents and some teachers, as well as several school police officers and students involved in the Police Explorers program. People wearing "I heart LASPD" shirts shared personal stories of officers saving lives. They argued that officers are needed to maintain safety, especially against the threat of mass shootings.

    Senior Police Officer Richard Bryant, who is a local pastor, said he's personally risked his life for student victims of gang violence and knows other officers have done the same. He said students at his school know how much he cares about them, and they need him.

    "I hear a lot of people saying they've been bullied by school police, and I'm saying that's not true,'' Bryant said, recalling several violent incidents to which he responded to protect students and staff. "The school police officers, as well as myself, risk their lives out there on the streets. They care about the community, and I know that for a fact."

    Henry Anderson, a parent, grandparent and school officer for 25 years, said he's not on the job to "brutalize and terrorize" students -- his voice cracking as he spoke against those claims, stating ``that's not what we do.'' He said he is proud to put his uniform on every day to take care of students.

    "To defund us is not the answer," Anderson said simply.

    LAUSD police -- who are not part of the Los Angeles Police Department -- responded to more than 100,000 emergency calls last year, including threats of mass shootings and bombs at schools, as well as robberies, sexual assaults, burglaries and other serious crimes, advocates told the board.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, two weeks ago, heads of the LA Teachers union voted to cut $70-million used for the school police department and instead use the funds for programs including counselors and nurses.

    The L.A. City Council agreed Monday to cut the Los Angeles Police Department's budget by more than $133 million, withering the force to below 10,000 officers and slicing overtime in the coming year. 

    The motion was initially filed by Council President Nury Martinez as well as councilmen Herb Wesson and Curren Price.

    Since the brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of four ex-Minneapolis police officers, the country has erupted in protests, many of which call for defunding the police

    CNS contributed to this story.