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LA police union backs plan to expand unarmed action

The Los Angeles Police Union has proposed a plan to send unarmed emergency responders to certain emergencies, which some have already criticized.

According to the LA Police Protective League, the plan hopes to get unarmed responses to nearly 30 emergency calls, such as non-fatal accidents, calls involving alcohol or drugs when no other crime is in progress, parking violations or neighbor disputes.

“We are not taking this proposal lightly and we do not want to diminish the importance of some of these calls for service,” said LAPPL Vice President Jerretta Sandoz.

Lieutenant Matthew Ensley, a watch commander who works with the union, said the plan would help officers trying to help someone through a psychiatric incarceration. In those cases, the officer must have the person evacuated in the hospital.

“That could take anywhere from two to 10 hours,” Ensley said. “Sometimes that person has to stay overnight, forcing the police officer to stay overnight.”

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The union said the officer’s time would be better spent handling calls for violent crimes. The plan has drawn criticism from some, including retired Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey.

“I think this is all window dressing,” she said. “I think this is Mike Moore, LAPD Chief Mike Moore, trying to appease the mayor because she just gave him a second term.”

She said some of the calls the police union wants to prevent from officers often end in aggression.

“People will quickly understand when they have a problem, they just have to say that violence is happening and that will trigger a police response,” Dorsey said.

A similar program in Venice has seen some success. As part of the pilot program, Circle, clinicians — rather than officers — maintain the encampment-free streets of the beach town.

“Things are looking a lot better now,” said resident Moorisha Bey-Taylor, near Venice’s Rose Avenue. “There were quite a few encampments.”

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Venice resident Katherine Harrold also believes that having an officer armed with a gun can have a chilling effect on some.

“I’ve had accidents before and the police officer comes to you and you immediately feel like you’re in trouble,” said Harrold.

The LAPPL said it has several city council members backing this proposal, as well as the support of the LAPD.

“We welcome the support of the Los Angeles Police Protective League in emphasizing the importance of establishing an alternate, non-law enforcement agency that responds to non-emergency calls,” the department said.

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