LA City Council to consider ‘Office of Unarmed Response’

On Friday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to explore the creation of a uniformed and unarmed force to respond to non-violent situations rather than armed police officers. 

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell led the push for The Office of Unarmed Response and Safety and said the city entity would build off previous unarmed crisis-response models that the city explored in the past. He added that this model would help improve the city’s public health model, by allowing officials to “focus police where they are best suited” and trained to address.” 

The councilman also hopes that this new program would help treat “mental health and substance abuse issues with the skill and response that is most appropriate.” 

O’Farrell’s office said the city currently lacks a “comprehensive response framework and accountability metrics for unarmed response.” The proposed program has garnered the support of LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore. 

The office would work with 911 dispatchers but rather than the Los Angeles Police Department showing up to the situation it would be unarmed response specialists using a services-led approach. The goals of the office would be to provide around-the-clock service and to bridge the gap in high-need areas by improving coordination between agencies.

“He knows this frees up more officers to stop gun crime, assault and deter crime,” O’Farrell said. “It’s time for the city to finalize the development of a systemic crisis response plan that would send a range of trained, unarmed service providers to respond to nonviolent and noncriminal situations instead of law enforcement.” 

The effort started after the death of George Floyd which sparked protests calling for police reform and an unarmed response to non-violent situations.