Abolition Policy Platform


Al’s Values

Black lives matter. Crime is the result of poverty. No human belongs in a cage. Policing in the U.S. is rooted in slave patrols and cannot be reformed. Every person deserves to be safe and secure in their person, homes, and communities.


Overview

Our city is over-policed. Our laws prohibiting drug use and sex work as well as traffic laws support and drive mass policing and surveillance. Police spend a significant amount of time enforcing drug and traffic laws. By changing the City’s approach to these issues, we can create a city that protects and guarantees human rights. Our abolition platform mostly focuses on measures that drastically reduce the role and funding of police (moving us toward abolition), and measures that invest into the community services we will need to live police- and prison-free.

  1. Dismantle and defund systems of surveillance, militarization, and policing.
  2. Reinvest police and surveillance funds into expanding and creating public services.
  3. Decriminalize the possession of all substances and expand harm reduction practices.
  4. Decriminalize sex work.
  5. Increase transparency, accountability, and oversight of LAPD (without increasing any funding).

Policy Details

1. Dismantle and defund systems of surveillance, militarization, and policing.

  1. Prohibit LAPD from contracting with social media data mining companies, facial recognition developers, and any predictive policing companies.
  2. Prohibit city departments (such as parks & recreation, libraries, etc.) from using police officers in their facilities.
  3. Withdraw LAPD from participation in militarization programs with federal government, including refusing federal grants involving the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigations.
  4. Prohibit LAPD from the acquisition and use of any tear gas or chemical agents and direct the disposal of any such chemicals in LAPD’s possession.
  5. Dismantle the LAPD’s Suspicious Activity Reporting program.

Dismantle the surveillance state.

Defund the police state.

Invest in communities, not policing.

Militarization and surveillance do not make the city safer. In June 2020, LAPD confirmed that their policy allows the use of tear gas for crowd control. Angelenos deserve policies that rid our city of banned weapons of war-like tear gas – not policies that legalize and fund them. Unless the City embraces an abolitionist future, the violence of paramilitary tactics will continue targeting communities of color and unhoused individuals – consistent with historical state-sanctioned violence toward Black people. Across the country, police are much more likely to use paramilitary tactics for search warrants involving people of color than white people. Surveillance technology has these same issues. Research shows that facial recognition algorithms tend to classify white men nearly always accurately but misclassify Black women at significant rates (as well as other people of color). To make Los Angeles safer, City Council must develop a new vision and understanding of safety.

Everyone in Los Angeles – including the unhoused – deserves to move and exist within public space without the threat and violence of policing. The City must support the efforts to rid libraries and parks of police. Instead of funding police salaries and expensive weapons, those resources can be directly invested in our libraries, parks, and all other services.

2. Reinvest police and surveillance funds into expanding and creating public services.

  1. Public Health & Mental Health
    1. Prohibit armed law enforcement from responding to mental health calls. Instead, fully fund an unarmed response team for a mental health crises hotline that specializes in medical care, verbal de-escalation, disarming, and social services.
    2. Expand funding to quality inpatient and outpatient care, including community-care models, and health clinics. 
    3. Fully fund community resource centers that can assist individuals experiencing housing instability with essential supplies. These resource centers will be staffed with therapists, social workers, case workers, and mediators available to the public.
  2. Traffic
    1. Prohibit the enforcement of traffic laws by armed law enforcement. Funnel traffic enforcement to LA DOT through license plates instead of stops.
    2. Expand funding to public transportation and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
    3. Fund unarmed response teams for traffic accidents and other road emergencies to assist impacted individuals, direct traffic, and clear the roads. 
  3. Public Space
    1. Expand public restrooms to ensure 24/7 access throughout the city.
    2. Expand funding for public parks and cooling centers.

More public restrooms, public housing, and public space – no state violence.

You can’t get well in a cell.

Mass incarceration has done nothing to address or reverse harm.

Reduce police contact with civilians.

The mindset that pervades police culture is fundamentally incompatible with de-escalation and nonviolently resolving mental health crises. They have repeatedly demonstrated they are unwilling to accommodate the needs and abilities of people who are neurodivergent or in a state of crisis, frequently choosing disproportionate violence in response to behavior they cannot understand or control. The treatment displayed in these interactions reduces public trust, especially in its victims, making them less likely to accept resources when they are available. Where alternative systems have been implemented, including or even solely consisting of unarmed medical and psychiatric professionals, consistently better outcomes have been observed, both for patients and city budgets. Currently, mental health resources are extremely underfunded. There are more people in need of care currently incarcerated than there are psychiatric beds in LA county. The inhumane conditions in our prisons and jails do not help people recover from mental illness. Freeing up money currently allocated to LAPD to establish a robust municipal welfare state will do more to end poverty and reduce crime than the status quo.

Removing police from responding to traffic will similarly enable the City of LA to redirect those funds to necessary services. This policy makes great strides towards full abolition as the police currently use the excuse of enforcing traffic laws to initiate a majority of their stops. In 2019, 77% of all officer-initiated stops by the LAPD were based on suspected traffic violations. Unsurprisingly, Black males and Latino males are much more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white males. By replacing armed police with unarmed traffic assistance, we can greatly reduce police contact with civilians along with discriminatory stops and searches.

3. Decriminalize the possession of all substances and expand harm reduction practices.

  1. Prohibit the use of city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws penalizing the use and possession of controlled substances.  
  2. Prohibit the use of city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws penalizing the use and possession of equipment associated with drug use.
  3. Pass resolution urging the Los Angeles County District Attorney to cease the prosecution of persons involved in the use or possession of controlled substances or associated equipment. 
  4. Prohibit businesses and unions with municipal contracts from drug testing employees as a condition of employment.
  5. Expand city-wide training on and access to naloxone to reverse effects of opioid overdose.
  6. Expand funding and access to needle exchange programs.

Prohibition is a failed policy.

The War on Drugs targets low-income, over-policed communities.

The City must end the oppressive war on drugs and be accountable for decades of criminalizing and targeting Black, brown, and low-income communities. Continuing to police the use of substances will cause more harm to these communities and contribute to decades of stigmatizing some drug users. These outdated, punitive policies cost us. In 2016, Human Rights Watch reported that police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime in the US – meaning we’re paying police to spend a lot of time stopping and arresting people for having drugs on them. By decriminalizing substances, we can greatly reduce the size of law enforcement and reduce their interactions with the public – bringing us closer to abolition. We know Angelenos can be safer through bold funding of harm reduction policies, like access to naloxone and needle exchange programs. The City has an obligation to guarantee the human rights of its residents – that’s only possible through decriminalizing the use of all substances. 

Consistent with their racist history and origins, drug laws continue to target and impact the Black community. In Los Angeles, Black people are arrested for cannabis offenses at much higher rates than white people, even after its legalization. As is well known, an arrest alone impacts an individual’s ability to maintain and obtain employment or housing. To truly end the war on drugs, the City must implement comprehensive policies that remedy such historical and modern injustices. Additionally, the City must financially support individuals trapped in cycles of debt (including from court, probation, treatment, and class fees) that lock them out from opportunities and services. 

Through coordinated efforts to decriminalize substances, defund policing, and increase funding for public health and mental health services, we can make Los Angeles a truly safe city.

4. Decriminalize sex work.

  1. Prohibit the use of city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws penalizing sex work, including loitering for intent to engage in, soliciting, patronizing, permitting, or engaging in sex work.
  2. Pass resolution urging the Los Angeles County District Attorney to cease the prosecution of persons engaging in sex work.

Sex work is work.

Decriminalizing sex work is a commonsense policy that improves public health, decreases violence, and permits sex workers to organize for safer work conditions. Studies have shown that decriminalizing sex work reduces STIs, rape, and violence against sex workers. Without the threat of arrest, prosecution, or incarceration, sex workers can work more safely and prioritize their health. Enforcement of laws prohibiting prostitution results in the arrest and harassment of sex workers, transwomen, and women of color by police. In Los Angeles, Black women make up only 9% of the city’s female population but are 65% of LAPD’s female prostitution arrests. The LAPD also has a documented history of profiling transgender women as sex workers over routine actions like walking down the street or hailing cabs. By decriminalizing sex work, police no longer have the cover of the prostitution prohibition laws to target Black and transgender women. It also creates an opportunity to further reallocate funds from policing to harm reduction and public health initiatives (for example, fully funding free STI and HIV testing). 

This policy is necessary because sex workers deserve to work without stigma or carceral punishment.

5. Increase transparency, accountability, and oversight of LAPD (without increasing any funding).

  1. Require lawsuit settlements regarding LAPD to be paid from the department’s budget or assets- instead of the taxpayer dollars.
  2. Coordinate yearly audit report and presentation on LAPD’s use of funds with City Controller.
  3. Create a brand-new civilian oversight commission, with the stipulations that members may NOT be current or former law enforcement officers. The commission should be appointed by City Council, with nominations from the community.
  4. Our office will cut ties with LAPD and all law enforcement agencies, and we will not utilize their services for anything, since we are dealing with the public.

The police are a bad investment and the public deserve to know the details of where the money goes. With a $3 billion budget, the LAPD should be responsible for paying their lawsuit settlements directly from their allocated budget. The LAPD accounts for 42% of the city’s lawsuit settlements from July 2005 to 2018 – a higher sum than any other city department. Without allocating any more funds to LAPD, the City needs to prioritize auditing and reporting on LAPD’s use of funds. Similarly, the City must ensure residents’ right to request and review records made public by California law. It’s time that City Council prioritized protecting residents over protecting the police.

Currently the LA Police Commission is entirely appointed by the Mayor. No bodies of power should be decided by one person alone. Despite the mix of harmful actions brought by its officers on a regular basis, LAPD currently has immunity from all consequences. It is time to hold the police accountable for their actions, and return the power to the people. 


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