The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has moved to increase law enforcement accountability and expand its investments that promote community well-being. Through a comprehensive package of four motions authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, that include expanding the Office of Diversion and Re-entry (ODR), funding probation oversight, scaling up the Public Defender’s Law Enforcement Accountability Unit (LEAU), and advancing the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) initiative, the board is doubling down on fully and fundamentally investing in community well-being as well as providing for greater oversight of law enforcement.
“The epidemic of police shootings of unarmed individuals is an unrelenting outrage that has rightfully provoked a much larger conversation around the twin objectives of promoting public safety and investing in community well-being,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “This package of motions is a reflection of our values guiding the way on measures that will lead to the outcomes that we desire and that the public deserves – safer, healthier, and more resilient communities.”
- Investing in the Public Defender’s Law Enforcement Accountability Unit
The board will expand the LEAU’s budget to provide resources to scale up staffing and expertise for the unit. As an accountability unit within the Public Defender’s office, LEAU will allow for the better identification and aggregation of information on law enforcement officers who have abused their authority or engaged in unconstitutional behavior, so that this information can be utilized in court when representing their clients, and shared publicly when possible.
- Funding and Expediting Probation Oversight in Los Angeles County
Earlier this year, the board approved a motion to create and fund a new oversight structure, consisting of the civilian Probation Oversight Commission (POC) and a new probation-focused unit within the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to address longstanding governance issues in the department. Stronger oversight is critical for addressing longstanding governance issues within the Probation Department (Department), increasing accountability for implementing necessary reforms, and supporting the work of improving community well-being and safety. The work of oversight grows more urgent as the Department continues to face the emerging challenges of protecting clients and staff from COVID-19 and serving youth who would have otherwise been sentenced to the state’s closing Division of Juvenile Justice facilities.
- Expanding the Office of Diversion and Reentry’s Work to Reduce Incarceration and Invest in the Health and Well-Being of Communities
The board seeks to also expand resources for ODR’s services for the fiscal year of 2020-21 by $30 million, allowing for hundreds of eligible individuals, many of whom live with mental or health challenges to be diverted from the jail. The motion also calls for a plan to ensure the sustainability and future scaling of this work.
- Creation of a Reserve Fund to Support the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiatives
In addition, the board will work to establish an ongoing funding reserve dedicated to the new Office of Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI). This effort comes after the board voted in March to establish the initiative that would provide this community-based care and treatment—calling for “care first, jails last.” This action followed the submission of the ATI Working Group’s report which found troubling racial disparities in terms of who gets incarcerated, including a finding that African Americans comprised 29 percent of the jail population despite being 9 percent of the population in LA County; and that persons identified as Hispanic or Latinx comprise 49% of the population, but comprise 52 percent of people in the jail.
For more information and to read each motion in its entirety, please visit: https://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/