Calls to defund, replace police grow amid march in Downtown Los Angeles

Outside LAUSD headquarters, protesters blocked the street as they rallied for change.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Will LAPD officers be replaced by unarmed non-law enforcement agencies to deal with non-violent calls? Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Herb Wesson introduced a motion to look into that.

If passed, it would have the LAPD work with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and other agencies to put together an unarmed team to answer calls that have to do with issues such as drug abuse and mental health.

The city council took this action while hundreds marched to Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters asking that it defund the school's police department.

Before they marched, they rallied at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex demanding police resources be used for educational services.

"We are here to defund the very system that places black students in harms way so that children will no longer have to face weapons in their schools, so that we can never be profiled or arrested in front of our classmates," said student Sara Jackson.

Outside LAUSD headquarters, protesters blocked the street as they rallied for change. Some teachers told ABC7 more resources like counselors, psychologists and educators are needed, not more cops.

"We don't need to criminalize our black and brown students, and it's very important that we get these mental health resources because they're dealing with trauma outside of school, and school needs to be a safe place, not a place where they are further criminalized," said teacher Haley Herkert.

The L.A. Schools Police Officer's Association says last year, police responded to more than 150 mass school threats on campuses.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner has said he wants a review of the district's police practices. Beutner said he would recommend the elimination of pepper spray and the use of carotid holds, or neck holds to control someone.

Meanwhile, the LA City Council is expected to review a plan to develop a non-violent crisis response team in order to divert some calls from police.

"Things like abandoned cars, homeless issues, mental health issues. If we can send trained professionals that are not members of the police department to handle those calls, then it does free up our police department to do the things why they joined the police department in the first place," Wesson said.

Wesson said there is a lot of research to do before a definitive decision can be made.

"We ask the police to solve all of the problems. I think that's unfair to the community and I think that's unfair to them as well," Wesson said.

The motion also instructs the LAPD to work with other government agencies that they can together respond to incidents related to mental health and drug abuse.

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LA City Council to meet to discuss LAPD budget cuts amid calls to 'defund the police'
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The Los Angeles City Council is expected to meet Tuesday to discuss a proposal to slash $100 million to $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department's proposed 2020-2021 budget.

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