In Los Angeles County’s first proposed budget reflecting the pandemic-related economic slowdown, officials announced Thursday that public safety will bear the brunt of an overall 8% cut in spending, with the Sheriff’s Department eyed for more than 400 layoffs and $162 million trimmed from its $3.3-billion budget.
Officials said the proposed cuts to the 2020-21 budget were largely due to shortfalls in sales tax funds, which have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The “defund the police” movement was not a factor in the decision to reduce spending at the department, officials said.
“I am very disappointed to report that significant cuts in county programs and personnel will be needed as a result of the serious economic downturn caused by this ongoing public health emergency,” L.A. County Chief Executive Sachi Hamai said in a statement. “This is not the outcome any of us wants to see, especially as our county staff continues to serve with great commitment during this crisis.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva has yet to comment on the proposed budget. He has been sharply critical of budget levels, which he believes need to be at $3.9 billion to run the department effectively.
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