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Letters to the Editor: Try this: Don’t call the police. Use respect to de-escalate dangerous situations

LAPD arrests
Dozens of protesters are arrested for curfew violations in downtown Los Angeles on June 2.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: When it comes to proposals to defund the police, the word “defund” is misleading. “Redirected” is more apt. Redirected funds would address mental health and substance abuse problems, education needs and resources for impoverished communities. Focusing on these would reduce crime.

In my 30 years as executive director of Friends Outside in Los Angeles County, a 48-year-old nonprofit that serves inmates, ex-inmates and their families, I have contacted the police one time. We serve all who come to us, never screening for the nature of their criminal record or for how long they have been out of prison.

Our staff, 45% of whom have a criminal record, is trained to de-escalate situations. Our holiday parties in Watts attracted 550 clients, and we never had one problem in 10 years. Young men who appeared to be gang members would arrive to see what was happening and say something like, “Cool, as long as it is for the community.” No police or security companies were ever used or needed. Respect goes a long way when dealing with people.

This is not to say the police have no role to play. But for the vast majority of situations, police intervention should be the last resort, not the first.

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Mary Weaver, Studio City

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To the editor: Columnist Doyle McManus believes that “defund the police” might be the worst campaign slogan ever. How is it any worse than “make America great again”? It’s a matter of perspective.

Recent events of police brutality have made it abundantly clear that the system is unjust. As a taxpayer, I do not approve of my hard-earned dollars being allocated toward a system that prioritizes incarceration over care.

If we divest from police, then we will be able to invest in communities. Allocating funds toward healthcare, mental health services, programs for homeless people, education and nutrition will undoubtedly result in less crime and therefore reduce the need for police.

Whether or not one likes the slogan, I encourage people to become educated about the movement to defund the police rather than dismiss it as a poorly constructed catchphrase.

Lisa Lynch, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Today’s police officers have to walk a very fine line. They must be friends to their communities, de-escalate difficult situations and refrain from abusing their power.

Many officers do well with that. However, as soon as there is an active shooter, we all want that Rambo cop who has no fear and is ready to run into harm’s way.

Matthew D. Kerster, Gardena

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To the editor: We must remember that the Obama administration and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, during his tenure, initiated pattern-or-practice investigations into local police departments nationwide.

The Justice Department, through the legal processes, put pressure on local police departments that had a pattern or practice of violating the constitutional rights of their citizens to clean up their act. Systemic racism, abuses of power, excessive force, unconstitutional searches and the like were targeted.

This made for better police practices and safer communities.

In September 2017, then-Atty. Gen. Jeff Session’s Department of Justice, under President Trump, brought these investigations to a virtual halt. Police reform became “voluntary,” which is just another term for nonexistent.

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It is long past time to bring back these investigations. Justice demands it.

Christopher T. Armen, Woodland Hills

The writer is a criminal defense attorney.


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