Los Angeles gun violence continues to climb this year as city officials recommended steep cuts in the city’s police department, a move L.A. police chief Michel Moore said on Saturday “would destroy public safety.”
The city has seen a 29 percent jump in gun violence compared to the same period last year, with 311 lives lost, and more than 1,100 people have been wounded in gun violence, CBS LA reported. The spike in violence this year didn’t deter city officials from recommending slashing the police department’s budget, likely eliminating 951 police officer and 728 civilian positions – totaling 1,679 jobs – from the Los Angeles Police Department, CBS LA reported.
“Those types of cuts are beyond devastation,” Moore said. “It would destroy public safety in this city. Those are numbers we’ve had in staffing that go back more than 25 years when homicides were 600 in a year.”
While the reduction of LAPD officers and personnel would reportedly save the city close to $51 million, Moore said the cuts would close entire stations and jails.
“There’s a lot of tension in our communities,” Moore said. “Turmoil and stress, lost jobs, lost livelihoods, and it’s just a terrible combination.”
On Saturday, Los Angeles hosted the eight annual gun buyback program hosted by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and orchestrated by the LAPD. The program was held in three locations across the city from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The program allowed anyone to anonymously turn in a gun in exchange for gift cards. According to CBS, participants received $100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and $200 for “assault weapons” as determined by the state of California. The gift cards were available while supplies last.
Each year, the “Gun BuyBack” program is run in an effort to reduce gun violence in the city, as well as encourage the community to get guns off the streets and improve community security.
“Reducing the number of shooting victims in Los Angeles has never been more important to the safety of all Angelenos,” Moore said. “Every gun recovered in this ‘Buy Back’ program means one less weapon that can be used to inflict harm.”
Moore said the buyback was needed more this year than ever before and the recent rise in gun crime is a factor in why he believes the city’s budget cuts cannot only impact the police department.
“The revenues aren’t there, the economy is down but public safety has to be our first priority,” said Mayor Garcetti, who attended the gun buyback. “Washington DC can take action this week. Nobody in Congress should go home for Christmas until they’ve passed a relief measure.”