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Letters to the Editor: Why we still need police to handle 911 calls that don’t report violent crimes

LAPD officers
LAPD officers patrol skid row in downtown Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The article “LAPD responds to a million 911 calls a year, but relatively few for violent crimes,” is part of a larger conversation on defunding police departments at any price. It is based on the hypothesis that most disturbances do not require police intervention.

As the L.A. Times reports, a large portion of 911 calls involve situations that may not require police intervention. The question is, however, exactly how many of these calls turned out to be nonviolent because of the way they were properly handled by the police?

Social disturbances often do not display signs of their nature. Information initially given is emotional and incomplete. Situations that start out peacefully can evolve into violence.

Sending social workers into circumstances where they are not able to cope and can themselves be subject to violence is not a solution. The best solution remains a police force that is trained and motivated to deal with the full gamut of disturbances.

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Jack Kaczorowski, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Violent crimes represented only 9% of the calls to the Los Angeles Police Department in 2019. And recently, the City Council voted to cut $150 million from the LAPD’s annual budget of $1.8 billion.

So, the LAPD got an 8% budget cut when 91% of 911 calls in 2019 were for nonviolent situations.

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Not only did the City Council not impose any changes on what the police are allowed to do, it also did not make a significant investment in personnel to handle the nonviolent functions the police now attend to: traffic stops (mostly “perceived violations”), traffic collisions, minor disturbances (loud music, barking dogs, fireworks, car alarms and so on), squabbles between family members or neighbors, and mental health calls (reportedly accounting for only 2% of the calls).

Where is the wisdom, the capability and the will to make the appropriate changes to the LAPD?

Diane Rabinowitz, Placerville, Calif.


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