Los Angeles Police Union Decides Maybe It’s Better If Cops Aren’t Asked To Be First Responders
from the kind-of-refreshing-tbh dept
For the most part, police unions are a net negative for both the police and the policed. They tend to excuse the worst behavior of their members while showing genuine disdain for anyone who dares to question an officer’s actions. Police unions have actively contributed to the mess US policing is and not a single one has stepped up to acknowledge the harm caused to the communities these agencies are supposed to be serving.
That’s why this news is so surprising. It’s not that it’s a crazy idea unlikely to receive community support. It’s that it’s a good idea and one that’s likely to result in fewer incidents where cops squander good will by acting like, well, cops.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the superhero-esque moniker the union representing the LAPD has bestowed upon itself, has finally acknowledged cops aren’t always the best option in certain emergencies — especially those that don’t involve criminal activity. Craig Lally, the union’s president, has released a list of calls the union believes would be better served by unarmed first responders. (It’s worth pointing out “unarmed” is a direct quote of Lally, which makes this statement somewhat of an admission that armed officers tend to view violence as the best response to far too many service calls.)
Here’s the full list, as published by news station KTLA:
1. Non-criminal and/or non-violent homeless and quality of life-related calls;
2. Non-criminal mental health calls;
3. Non-violent juvenile disturbance or juveniles beyond parental control calls; (won’t go to school);
4. Calls to schools unless the school administration is initiating a call for an emergency police response or making a mandatory reporting notification;
5. Public Health Order violations;
6. Non-violent calls for service at City parks;
7. Under the influence calls (alcohol and/or drugs) where there is no other crime in progress;
8. Welfare Check – WELCK;
• Courtesy request from Drs/Hospitals;
9. Non-Fatal Vehicle Accidents – 1181/1182/1183/1179;
• Non-DUI/Non-Criminal; Property damage only (including City property), Verbal disputes involving non-injury traffic collisions, refusing to share ID at traffic collisions;
10. Parking violations;
11. Driveway tow;
12. Abandoned vehicles;
13. Person dumping trash;
14. Vicious and dangerous dog complaints where no attack is in progress;
15. Calls for service for loud noise, loud music, or ‘party’ calls that are anonymous or have no victim;
16. Landlord/Tenant Disputes;
17. Loitering/Trespassing With No Indication Of Danger;
18. Code 30 Alarm Response (except 211 silent alarm);
19. Syringe Disposal;
20. DOT Stand-By;
21. Homeless Encampment Clean-Ups, unless officers are requested or prescheduled;
23. Illegal Vending;
24. Illegal Gambling;
26. Defecating/Urinating In Public;
27. Drinking in Public;
28. Suspicious circs-possible dead body, where no indication of foul play
Every call not handled by a cop is a call where the odds of a person in need of assistance surviving the interaction increase. Cops are not trained to handle many of these situations. Their training tends to focus on force deployment, compliance techniques, and other things meant to mitigate the dangers of the job.
When asked to handle situations where training has been insufficient, things tend to go poorly for those on the receiving end of the police response. Many of these situations would be better handled by mental health professionals, medical personnel, or social workers who are specifically trained to address these issues.
As for the rest — the minor infractions that don’t demand immediate armed response — officers tasked with handling non-violent misdemeanors (more meter reader than beat cop) or code enforcement employees can take the lead, engaging in enforcement without unneeded use of force.
It’s not a new idea. Other large cities have experimented with routing calls like these to trained professionals who aren’t armed officers. And, so far, the outcomes have been very positive. Fewer unnecessary arrests have been made. More confrontations have been avoided. People have received help rather than citations and agitation. And, most importantly, more people are coming out of these situations without injuries, bullet holes, or bullshit “contempt of cop” charges.
There’s no set start date for the rerouting proposed by the union. Union reps says details are still being finalized, including protocols for police response should initial responders encounter dangerous situations. But this is the union backing this, which means its members — the LAPD rank-and-file — are either on board with the change, or unlikely to go into “slow down” mode once this rolls out.
You won’t often see me agreeing with a police union. But I’m as surprised as anyone by this proposal and its origins. And it’s worth noting because, if nothing else, it suggests unions might be realizing they have to do something to push their members into forming better relationships with the communities they serve. It’s time to give something back after taking away so much. This is a good start. Let’s hope this union’s proactive move encourages others in the nation to do the same thing.
Filed Under: first responders, la, lapd, police