LA city council approves plan to replace cops with unarmed responders

Trained crisis responders will handle nonviolent calls likes mental health crises, substance abuse, and neighbor disputes

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Los Angeles has moved to replace police with unarmed community-based responders for nonviolent calls. The measure was unanimously approved by the city council.

Nonviolent calls include mental health crises, substance abuse, and neighbor disputes. Instead of police, these calls will now be answered by trained crisis responders.

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“This is the dawn of a new era of public safety in Los Angeles.” Councilmember Herb J. Wesson Jr. tweeted.

“The bottom line is that the way things have been going is not working for our communities.” He wrote, “This last month has made that crystal clear. We have a responsibility to listen to our people, and our people have spoken.” Wesson stated that he would continue to work with Black Lives Matter-LA.

The new model will be developed by the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) and the City Administrative Officer (CAO), with assistance from the Los Angeles Police Department and the city’s Housing Services Authority.

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and other service providers will also support the effort.

The change has the support of both the Los Angeles Police Protective League and of LA Mayor, Eric Garcetti. “We must act to reform public safety in our communities — and today, we took an important step forward.” Garcetti tweeted.

The measure is the first of its kind in a major U.S. city, and Los Angeles hopes that the city will be a leader in developing a national model.

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“I’m optimistic cities and counties across the nation will follow our lead,” Wesson wrote.

A similar model is already successful in Eugene, Oregon.

CAHOOTS is a collaboration between local police and a community service called the White Bird Clinic. Ben Brubaker who runs the clinic told NPR that their team is comprised of a medic and a crisis worker — that can go out and respond to the call, assess the situation, assist the individual if possible, and then help get that individual to a higher level of care or necessary service.

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