CCAN Analysis of Proposed CCPD Budget

May 17, 2021

Dear City Council:

We are dismayed by the City Manager’s proposed 2021-22 budget as it concerns policing and public safety. It appears to reflect a profound disregard for the harms of the status quo, a determined resistance to structural change, and techniques of diversion and delay. These continue the pattern set over the past year, which has profoundly undermined public confidence in the integrity and values of City government. The Council’s own history (collectively, not in each individual case) of equivocation has undoubtedly contributed to this pattern, but we remain hopeful that a majority of you will take more decisive action to advance justice.

The following are the bare minimum changes the Council should direct to continue a serious process of reimagining public safety through the budget process. This is not comprehensive, as other issues will need to be addressed outside the budget context.

  • There should be no net growth in the CCPD budget. The nearly $3 million proposed increase is outrageous. Any new spending should be offset by other reductions. For any necessary offsets not achieved through the budget process because governed by the CCPOA MOU that expires June 30, 2022, Council should publicly direct staff to negotiate a successor MOU that will achieve the corresponding savings.
  • The four sworn officer positions proposed for elimination should be removed but not merely replaced by new hiring of civilians. By proposing four new “management analyst” positions to “replace” these four officers, the budget appears to merely shuffle staffing, not substantively reduce policing, staffing, and budget.
  • Until the City Manager produces an analysis of potential staffing reductions through attrition, the Council should direct that any new vacancies during the coming year cannot be filled without Council pre-approval based on an affirmative demonstration of need. It is time to end the presumption in favor of maintaining the status quo. The proposed budget currently does the opposite. If the Council needs to set a minimum FTE level below which replacement hiring is pre-authorized during this interim period, it should be at least 5% below the maximums authorized in the budget.
  • Civilian operations that are not conducted by sworn personnel and that do not need to be integrated with sworn operations, such as parking enforcement or animal control, should be moved out of the PD.
  • Budget language should clarify that, wherever possible, new alternative response strategies, including mobile crisis intervention services, should be housed outside the PD, though of course some coordination with PD may be necessary and appropriate. Current language does not clarify this and could suggest the opposite. That said, we are gratified to see the $1.4 million non-departmental funds proposed to develop mobile crisis.

Here are our concerns about the proposed budget as it currently stands. Overall, it 

  • Substantially increases spending on CCPD by $2.7 million, 6% more than last year’s adjusted budget (21). This is on top of $800,000 added to the CCPD budget during 2020-21, after the initial budget was adopted in June 2020. This is particularly galling after the City Manager defied Council’s summer 2020 instruction to study and present options that could substantially reduce CCPD’s budget by up to 50%. Those actions kneecapped the potential to even consider change, corrupted democratic accountability, and played into the hands of the police union and its preferred political candidates who shared the City Manager’s stated opposition to substantial change.
  • This increase in absolute spending also corresponds to CCPD taking an increasing share of spending from the General Fund, up to 36% in the proposed budget (21).
  • The budget proposes no structural changes to the PD (37). For instance, there continues to be no action on previously identified “low-hanging fruit,” such as moving unsworn activities like parking enforcement or animal control to other departments. Armed policing is addressed below.
  • The proposed budget identifies zero cuts in any aspect of PD operations (the swap between 4 sworn and civilian personnel is discussed below) (37). All of the minor reform initiatives involve new spending without any offsetting reductions. Reforms should be shrinking, not growing, the PD.

We are appalled by the proposed budget’s approach to CCPD staffing:

  • The budget appears to attempt a bait and switch by advertising a nominal reduction of eight sworn officers (15 ,37, 231) .
    • Four of these positions existed only on paper and were already left vacant by direction of last year’s budget. Therefore, they are no reduction at all.
    • The remaining four positions are merely, in the words of the proposal itself (15), “replaced” by four new civilian hires in “management analyst” positions. This appears designed to shift administrative work from sworn to unsworn staff while maintaining existing levels of patrol. In other words, there is no rollback in existing levels of excessive staffing and overpolicing.
  • Indeed, the City Manager explicitly embraces the status quo by articulating a principle that never had been adopted by Council itself. The City Manager specifically rejects any further reductions (beyond the proposed fake reductions) in sworn personnel, until after existing responses are replaced with alternatives and reduced staffing needs are demonstrated (15). There is no rationale offered for this, no recognition of the harms of status quo policing, no analysis of why immediate reductions are not feasible. Instead, the status quo is presumed to be good. This is shameful.
  • We note that to date, City government has refused even to analyze CCPD’s ability to reduce costs, staffing, and overpolicing without first developing alternative response capacity.
    • As we have repeatedly noted, the CPSM report notes (p. 34) that CCPD deploys twice as many officers per dispatch than policing norms (Chief Cid recently indicated that perhaps it is only 1.5x, but the point remains). The CPSM report also notes the CCPD has a “Saturation Index” about 20% lower than CPSM’s benchmark for time demands on sworn personnel (pp. 43-44). These clearly indicate room for substantial staff reductions even with the existing mission. Nonetheless, the City Manager failed to charge CPSM with actually analyzing how staffing reductions might work and what the consequences would be, despite that being a primary purpose of the public safety review. Instead, the City Manager allowed or encouraged the PD to exploit the occasion of an uprising for racial justice to hire a consultant who spent the bulk of its time and report analyzing totally unrelated issues about the “efficiency” with which the PD could maintain the status quo.
    • There also are a variety of CCPD activities that could be rolled back without substituting alternative responses. This includes, especially, reducing CCPD involvement in traffic enforcement, as directed by Council on April 26 but not mentioned in the proposed budget. The very narrow reduction announced in February could go much further, as, for instance, Berkeley already has. And CPSM itself noted that CCPD responds to minor traffic accidents when that is unnecessary.
    • In just the past year, CCPD has announced changes that increased patrol. These could be rolled back. Freeing up officers for more patrol was one rationale given for hiring more jailers, because sworn officers had been covering part of jail operations. And the same February announcement reducing some traffic stops also announced intensified foot and bike patrols Downtown. So while reductions are assumed to require justification — and then the City refuses to study them, thereby ensuring no justification is possible — increases in policing are waved through on the PD’s say-so.
    • We remind the Council that only 2% of CCPD dispatches are classified as involving violent crime, and only another 6% involve any other kind of crime. Again, the City has not even attempted to show that PD’s ability to address actual crime would be impaired by even modest reductions in the things that actually take up most of its time — and subject residents and visitors, especially younger people who are Black or Brown, to harassment, intimidation, and risk of injury or death. 

In those areas where Council has specifically directed action, we remain concerned about lack of robust implementation or continued efforts at co-optation by the PD.

  • We are gratified to see the $1.4 million to support implementation of mobile crisis intervention services. However, we remain concerned that the description of the project specifies only that it involves “unarmed” response and not that it be operated outside of the PD (14). This is concerning in combination with the PD’s work plan–but no other department’s– including involvement in the mobile crisis project (252). Other elements, too, suggest that the PD may attempt to remain in control of response to crises of mental health, houselessness, drug use, and related issues.
  • Similarly, although the City Manager’s section refers to alignment with the County’s Alternatives to Incarceration effort (14), the only apparent reference to implementing this occurs in the PD’s discussion of expanding its youth diversion programs (253). We reiterate our call, consistent with the Solidarity Consulting recommendations, for development of pre-arrest diversion that does not involve CCPD response at all.
  • There also is no specific mention of reducing CCPD’s role in traffic enforcement, either in terms of the bases for stops or in terms of the use of “proactive” stops as opportunities to conduct searches and other enforcement beyond the basis for the stop itself. This despite specific direction by the City Council on April 26 for further work on this “pathway” recommended by Solidarity Consulting.
  • Although the budget includes $100,000 for “public safety related studies,” it is unclear what this means (33). This should include any studies necessary to analyze implementation of the three approved pathways and also the potential for staffing reductions through attrition.

We ask that you use the May 17-19 initial budget hearings to direct substantial revisions as requested above.

Sincerely,

Culver City Action Network