LOS ANGELES, California — Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who felt demoralized by recent protests and budget cuts should take heart and “remember why they became police officers.”
Garcetti was speaking after numerous reports of “record low” morale in the LAPD, after the Black Lives Matter riots led the mayor to announce $150 million in cuts to the department, which became official on Monday. Garcetti is also feuding with the local police union, which took offense last month when the mayor referred to police (in general) as “killers.” LAPD officers also learned that they would to be paid overtime for much of their work during the protests, and on Tuesday the local school board slashed the budget of the school police force by 35%, leading the chief to resign.
Breitbart News had an opportunity to ask Garcetti at a press briefing to respond to reports of low morale. He replied:
I don’t think we have to choose between holding police officers accountable and also having a ton of respect for who they are. I know that may — some people will hear that, through their ears, and get angry with both of those statements, but I’m ever going to choose between those two. And I do acknowledge that — I’ve taken time, myself, to stop and talk to police officers, to go on some ride-alongs, to tell them that, you know, the future may seem scary, but it shouldn’t be. It’s something we need to embrace together, that policing always evolves, and that I want to listen to them, and their frustrations, and apologize for anything that may have been reported, or misreported. For instance, I never have said that L.A. police officers were “killers,” but that was something that was put out there. And I said, I just want to say, I’m sorry for the pain you might have received that with, because I did not say that and I would not say that. I’ve seen heroic work that our police officers have done. I’ve also seen behavior that has no place in our department, and should — not only in the tactics, but in the culture — be eliminated from our department. You can’t run away from either of those things. And I want to lift up who our public safety, our peace officers, are, while also asking for all of us to re-imagine — there is such a weight on their shoulders right now, we need them to feel good about who they are and what they do, but we need to make sure that that’s also not having an impact on people who live here, adn pay their and my salaries, in a negative way. And I think study after study shows, in across America, there are some things we have to fix with that approach. And that should be done together. So I invite them to the table — I saw good signs, for instance, I know everybody always pits unions, and leaders, and activists against each other, we saw our police union take out ads with two other police unions in the state, embracing important reforms that, two or three years ago, would have been maybe unthinkable to hear from a union. There’s always a place at the table for anybody who is serious about this work. And to our officers out there: I want them to remember why they became police officers. I go to nearly every single graduation, and I talk to every single recruit as I go down the inspection line. I hear where they are from, and how they often grew up here in Los Angeles, or an immigrant who moved here with the dream of becoming a Los Angeles police officer. I know that they have put themselves, their bodies on the line, where they sometimes know that they might not come home to their families, and we need to recognize that. But that’s not mutually exclusive from an agenda of making sure policing is re-imagined in our country, too. We’ve done that at other important moments, and we should to shrink away from that, whether it’s in our school district, or whether it’s in our Los Angeles Police Department. So I want to lift that up.
Garcetti said that while “social distancing” requirements would be ramped back up due to a coronavirus spike, the city would not be using police officers to issue tickets to those who were caught not wearing masks in public as required.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.