Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez supports reducing the L.A. Police Department’s budget by $100-$150 million and reinvesting the funds into communities of color and youth development. She doesn’t think defunding the police will lead to an increase in criminal activity in L.A.

When Rodriguez was growing up, her house was burglarized. She said it wasn’t the LAPD officers who investigated the incident who helped improve safety in her community. It was the neighborhood watch that made Rodriguez feel protected, she said.

“I don’t believe the best and highest outcomes in having a safer city are going to be achieved through policing efforts alone,” she said.

The Budget Committee is still deciding how to allocate funds in the future.

What You Need To Know

  • L.A. City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez supports defunding LAPD by $100-$150 million

  • The Budget Committee is still deciding to allocate funds in the future

  • Councilwoman Rodriguez wants to evaluate existing youth programs to see if they’re working

  • Councilwoman Rodriguez wants to stop prison labor in L.A.

“I understand the high emotions that are involved given the circumstances of what is feeling right now, but I think it's responsible for everybody to be engaged in a conversation with calmer heads to understand what we're even talking about,” she said. “There hasn't been a proposal of slashing and burning budgets. There was a lot of extrapolation that was unnecessary, and I think that caused more angst than was necessary. But our budgetary process ensued days after that motion [to reduce LAPD funding by $100-150 million] was introduced, and it will continue to ensue.”

Rodriguez said she is passionate about helping underserved youths and believes that more money should be allocated toward programs that benefit them.

“We know that through this pandemic, our youth have been traumatized through the experience that many of them had. There's also unequal access when you look at the kind of academic environment that many youth had across this city as a result of schools being shut down,” she said.

L.A. invests in youth programming across 26 different departments, yet Rodriguez said there are no methods to measure how successful the programs have been.

“When you talk about money, I think this is also an area where we stand to correct a lot of investments that have not perhaps borne the fruit that we had hoped it would,” she said.

Rodriguez said about $28 million of L.A.’s general fund is spent on intervention programs for young people who have been deemed at risk or who have already gotten into trouble.

“Is there a better, more constructive way to spend, or is it better that we make sure that we're doing the work earlier in their life to capture their attention and their energy, to keep them on a path in more constructive and productive areas?” she said.

Many communities, including youths, are suffering as a result of the pandemic.

“I've said many times: Food insecurity and housing and security was a pandemic long before COVID-19, and these circumstances have only further daylighted what we already knew to be true,” she said.

It’s Rodriguez’s goal to eradicate the inequities that people of color and other neglected groups face in Los Angeles.

“While some people want to preserve and perhaps feel entitled to protecting [the LAPD], irrespective of what others are experiencing, I think this is not the right attitude,” she said. “I think everybody has to understand that we are one Los Angeles, and we are all here for one another, and during these more difficult times, we need to really be focused on helping to fulfill and close the gaps for people across the city.”

Rodriguez recently introduced a motion calling for the prohibition of goods made from prison labor. And just like the Food and Drug Administration tells consumers whether an item is a genetically-modified organism or not, Rodriguez is calling for the disclosure of items made from the incarcerated workforce.

“We know that disproportionately communities of color have across this country been incarcerated, many times without substantial evidence to back up that incarceration. And so, as a result, when you have prison systems that are profiting, it really begs the question: What are we doing? Are we sustaining a practice that is in fact holding many communities back? The introduction of my motion was to assure that in the city of Los Angeles, we do not engage in that process,” she said.


“I’m working double time to make up for the lost time.”

Rodriguez has been in office for three years.

“I am really diligent in making sure that we aren’t missing a mark, whether it's talking about how we procure goods and services and making sure that it's not sustaining a pipeline that incarcerates communities of color, but also how do we continue the reforms, just as I introduced the motion to say: Rather than appointing yet another blue ribbon task force, let's talk about what work has still been left undone.”

Rodriguez said she has had “the blessing of working with some outstanding officers of our Los Angeles Police Department,” many of whom were inspired by the 1992 Uprising to join the force and transform it from within.

“I think there's a lot of reforms that need to transpire, and it’s at a variety of levels,” she said. “I'm doing my best to try and just tackle all of them and work constructively with the men and women of this department and the leadership, which I know are equally committed to doing that, because we all have a responsibility in the world of changing that today.”

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