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Los Angeles County proposes $145M cut to sheriff’s office that would eliminate special victims unit

by Madison Dibble, Breaking News Reporter |   | June 29, 2020 05:03 PM

The unit responsible for tending to cases involving rape, human trafficking, and the physical and sexual abuse of children may be on the chopping block in Los Angeles County.

The county CEO Sachi Hamai proposed more than $145.4 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department last week as part of her budget overhaul to make up for revenue losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Her proposal would cut 1,392 positions within the sheriff’s office and eliminate several units.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva condemned her proposed cuts in a statement posted on Sunday.

“The budget cuts announced by county CEO Sachi Hamai are targeted specifically to hurt public safety in Los Angeles County, while sparing virtually every other function of county government from any reductions. The CEO’s recommended budget for the LASD from May was $3.5 billion, a shortfall of $400 million from the true cost of running the largest sheriff’s department in the nation,” he wrote.Recommended For YouThe COVID-19 restrictions in every state

“As we have been busy reorganizing around the first massive reduction, the Board of Supervisors are now set to force the community to suffer a major loss of law enforcement resources with a second round of cuts to the tune of $145.4 million. This is literally balancing the entire county budget on the back of the LASD,” he added.

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Villanueva noted that Hamai’s budget recommendation includes the elimination of the Safe Streets Bureau, the Parks Bureau, the Special Victims Bureau, the Community Partnership Bureau, the Fraud and Cybercrimes Bureau, and the Major Crimes Bureau. The Safe Streets Bureau is responsible for law enforcement related to the county’s gangs, and the Special Victims Bureau is responsible for assisting victims of rape, human trafficking, and child abuse.

“The CEO and the Board have embraced the ‘Defund the Police’ movement and are cynically hiding behind accounting maneuvers, knowing well that loss of revenue in sales tax can be made up by equitably distributing more stable revenue streams like property taxes. This is not acceptable and a willful abandonment of one of the top priorities of all local government: keeping people safe,” Villanueva wrote.

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The movement to defund law enforcement agencies picked up steam following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes during an arrest. While Hamai’s budget does cut the department’s funding, it is not in line with the Black Lives Matter movement’s effort to reallocate funds away from police to other community projects because this is only a budget cut to match shortfalls from the pandemic.

Villanueva suggested that other parts of the county government should be on the chopping block rather than the sheriff’s office.

“These cuts come at a time when jails were de-populated of over five thousand inmates in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that restrictions are lifting, violent crimes, such as murder, are on the rise across the County and other metropolitan areas such as New York City and Chicago,” he said.

“Now is not the time to cut vital law enforcement services, that should be the last thing cut,” he continued. “Curiously, the bloated county bureaucracy remains virtually intact, which should always be the first to suffer reductions. The priorities of the Board of Supervisors are not the priorities of the good people of Los Angeles County.”

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