The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan Wednesday to add an unarmed crisis response team to the police department, according to local reports.
The council, which voted 14-0, will seek proposals from nonprofit organizations with ideas for pilot programs, Fox LA reported.
The city also will “seek recommendations from relevant departments” on how to add new city employees who will respond to nonviolent calls that currently go to police, according to a press release. The new workers would provide mental health, substance abuse and welfare check services.
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“Today marks a seminal moment in our city’s history in our efforts to reimagine public safety,” Council President Nury Martinez said in the release.
The vote came on what would have been the 47th birthday of George Floyd – a Black man who died while in police custody in May after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Bystanders recorded the incident on video, and his death resulted in nationwide protests against police brutality.
“If George Floyd had been met with unarmed, trained specialists for the nonviolent crime he was accused of, he would be turning 47 years old today,” City Councilman Herb Wesson Jr. told Fox LA. “This plan will save lives, and I’m so proud of my colleagues on the Council for voting to move this forward.”
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Wesson and several other councilmembers introduced the proposal in June, describing it as the “first step” in a plan to “replace LAPD.”
In a series of tweets, he argued that the current state of the Los Angeles Police Department “is not working” and that a month of protests against police violence “made that crystal clear.”
“This won’t solve all of our problems right away,” Wesson wrote. “But this move marks a sea change in our city’s approach to public safety and I’m optimistic cities and counties across the nation will follow our lead.”
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The plan to send unarmed first responders to answer nonviolent calls is one of several ideas for police reform in the city, the Los Angeles Times reported.