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LAPD union decries Garcetti’s ‘killers’ comment. He says he wasn’t talking about police

Mayor Eric Garcetti at a protest outside of L.A. City Hall on Tuesday.
Mayor Eric Garcetti at a protest outside L.A. City Hall on Tuesday.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Officials with the Los Angeles police union assailed Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday for comments he made about cutting the LAPD budget, saying police officers have lost confidence in the mayor’s ability to lead the city after days of demonstrations.

Speaking at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Los Angeles on Thursday, Garcetti said that his proposal to reduce LAPD spending and shift the savings to minority communities was getting attention from mayors across the country.

“That’s exactly the point,” he said. “It starts someplace, and we say we are going to be who we want to be, or we’re going to continue being the killers that we are.”

A Garcetti aide later told The Times that the “killers” remark referred to police agencies across the country.

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The following morning, an official with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, accused the mayor of “political pandering” and called him “unstable.”

“He smeared every single police officer in Los Angeles and across the nation by calling us killers,” said Jamie McBride, a board member with the union.

Hours later, Garcetti said his “killers” remark wasn’t about police officers at all — but was instead a reference to society’s “collective burden” to address high mortality rates among black Angelenos.

“I absolutely did not say that about the league, about police officers,” he said. “And I won’t have those words distorted.”

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The back-and-forth between the union and the mayor played out in the wake of Garcetti’s announcement that he would seek to cut up to $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department and put the money toward funding new youth jobs, health initiatives and “peace centers” to heal trauma.

The move to scale back police spending followed days of pressure from activists, labor unions and community groups and nationwide protests against police violence, including a large demonstration outside his home, over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Union leaders said they were caught off guard by the announcements from Garcetti and council members about new cuts to the LAPD. As recently as last weekend, Garcetti gave no hint that he would consider decreasing funding when asked about the size of the police force.

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McBride said his union is “honestly concerned” about the mayor’s mental health in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the protests.

“I think he should seek some help and maybe have somebody to talk to — a counselor or something — and reflect on some of his decisions,” McBride said.

Union officials also said they have no intention of reopening negotiations on their contract, which provides them with 4.8% in raises and nearly $41 million in education bonuses in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

When Garcetti ran for mayor in 2013, the union pumped about $1.5 million into the candidacy of his opponent, then-City Controller Wendy Greuel.

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Garcetti and the union patched things up, and by 2016 the mayor was working with the league on a union-backed measure to change the LAPD’s disciplinary process. Last year, Garcetti and the City Council signed off on a lucrative package of raises and bonuses for officers that is expected to add $123 million to the LAPD’s budget.

Times staff writer James Rainey contributed to this report.


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