Culver City Observer -

City Council Ponders Crisis Intervention Program to Reduce Reliance on CC Police

 

January 28, 2021

The City Council met this week to review the findings of the long-awaited Solidarity Consulting Report, which details options to advance racial equity and social justice in public safety in Culver City.

After three hours of public hearing on the issue, Councilmembers voted to task a subcommittee – composed of Mayor Alex Fisch and Councilmember Yasmine McMorrin – to select a project manager to develop a mobile crisis intervention program "as a way toward restructuring public safety duties and reducing reliance on police."

The crisis intervention program is one of the many recommendations contained in the latest report. Last year, the city manager hired Solidarity Consulting and Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) to serve as technical advisors to the city's Public Safety Task Force in its efforts to reimagine public safety.

The CPSM report, unveiled last October, suggested decriminalizing low-level misdemeanor thefts, among other reforms and called for less than 3% reduction in the Culver City Police Department (CCPD) budget. These cuts would be realized by moving school crossing guards, animal services and parking enforcement to other city departments.

In sharp contrast to CPSM, the Solidarity Report suggested "pathways to reallocating public safety duties and resources that are most directly tied to existing racial inequities in policing." It makes the following recommendations: remove police from mental health and drug-related crisis intervention or emergency medical response; stop arresting people for misdemeanor crimes driving racial disparities; remove police from traffic enforcement; commit to finding ways to reduce the police force through attrition and a hiring freeze; and create a civilian oversight committee.

The Solidarity preliminary report noted that "CCPD sworn personnel make 2 times as much in total pay than other Culver City employees and 4 times as much in 'Other Pay' than other city employees. Almost 30% of the CCPD budget for salaries is spent on 'Other Pay/Cash Compensation,' not base salaries for police officers. CCPD's total budget is 4 times the budget for the City's park, recreation, and community services, 22X the budget for housing protections/rental assistance and homelessness projects and 144X the budget for after-school programs."

The report also stated: "For long term structural change, two barriers that the City Council can begin address to show a good faith effort at taking seriously any racial justice pathways to reallocation of police services, duties, and responsibilities, include a) a process to examine labor costs associated with policing and b) demystifying the state of municipal law and liability that may or may not be relevant to implementing these alternatives."

During Monday night's meeting, 51 speakers waited to address the Council about the Solidarity Report. Most of them backed the latest report's findings and urged the councilmembers to begin the process of improving public safety while others expressed their strong support for the Culver City Police Department.

The Culver City Action Network, which is calling for alternative public safety approaches, contend that "only a tiny fraction of CCPD operations" relate to violent crime. "The pro-police consultants reported that only 2% of police dispatches responded to violent crime reports," CCAN said. "In contrast, 43% related to traffic enforcement, parking, and traffic and other accidents, and 31% related to mental health, calls about "disturbances" or "suspicious incidents," or police-initiated pedestrian stops."

"In short, it is absurd and dishonest to suggest that reallocating substantial public safety resources away from armed police would affect response to violent crime," CCAN added in a statement.

 

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