The Los Angeles City Council has taken a significant step in transforming public safety by approving a motion to initiate the establishment of an Office of Unarmed Response. The motion, introduced by Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, along with council members Nithya Raman, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and former Councilman Mike Bonin, acknowledges the city’s previous efforts to explore alternative responses to emergency calls and the need for a centralized office to oversee these initiatives.
With a 12-0 vote, the council has directed various city departments to develop a framework for the Office of Unarmed Response, including details on its scope of work, funding, staffing, and primary objectives. The motion also requires the chief administrative officer to create a performance management and evaluation program for the city’s Unarmed Model of Crisis Response Pilot within the next 120 days. The data from this study will inform the formation of the Office of Unarmed Response.
The Los Angeles Police Department has been instructed to submit a report within 90 days, listing 911 calls that could be appropriately redirected to alternative response models instead of armed police officers. This step aims to explore ways to optimize the allocation of resources and ensure a more tailored response to different types of emergencies.
The city council’s commitment to reimagining and transforming public safety stems from the nationwide movement that gained momentum after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. The protests sparked a call to “defund the police” and develop alternative unarmed response models. Los Angeles has already taken several initial steps to shift responsibilities for homelessness-related calls and emergency crisis response to unarmed civilian personnel, as well as implementing non-law enforcement alternatives for traffic safety enforcement.
The Office of Unarmed Response will consolidate existing alternative response programs, including those focused on suicide safety, community-led crisis and incident response, gang reduction and youth development, summer night programs, and domestic abuse response. By centralizing these efforts, the city aims to streamline and enhance its interventions, ultimately working towards the diversion of certain 911 calls to more appropriate and specialized response teams.
While this approval marks a significant milestone, Councilman Bob Blumenfield emphasizes that Los Angeles has been actively implementing alternative interventions, often overlooked due to the city’s size. Bringing these initiatives under one roof and advancing towards the diversion of emergency calls is seen as a crucial and historic development in reshaping public safety.
The establishment of the Office of Unarmed Response represents a commitment to prioritize community well-being and explore innovative approaches to ensure public safety. The city of Los Angeles is taking a proactive stance in transforming emergency response systems and addressing the evolving needs of its diverse population.