Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna requested funding to recruit more than 1,000 deputies to the force, along with other initiatives, during a public hearing on the County’s proposed $43 million budget on May 10.
Luna’s requests seem to surpass the $4 billion budget for the 2023–2024 fiscal year recommended by L.A. County CEO Fesia Davenport.
As part of the proposal, Luna seeks to recruit 1,100 deputies, implement a jail management system and supply new Tasers to deputies on patrol. He also wants to place two captains at the East Los Angeles Station and two captains Compton Station, both of which had a history of having deputy gangs, in an effort to improve compliance with LASD standards. One captain would focus on administrative duties, while the other would engage with the community, addressing long-standing concerns within these stations.
To address the issues plaguing county jails, which have faced lawsuits due to overcrowding and a Department of Justice consent decree demanding improved conditions and an end to excessive force, Sheriff Luna proposed the installation of a digital monitoring system. This system would help track the location of inmates and jail deputies, a measure he believes is necessary to identify and solve problems within the system.
Luna also noted the strain on deputies caused recruitment difficulties and called to increase the number of academy classes to eight in the coming year, with 100 recruits enrolled in each.
Furthermore, the sheriff expressed the urgency of addressing the costly lawsuits and settlements resulting from excessive force and wrongful death claims, which significantly impact the County’s finances.
Additionally, Sheriff Luna warned that failing to improve county jails could lead to federal or state receivership, emphasizing that the issue had been ignored by his predecessor, Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Luna stressed the need to confront these challenges head-on, acknowledging that they can no longer be avoided.
Luna’s budget requests received mixed responses. Supervisor Lindsey Horvath expressed reservations about the request for additional Tasers, referring to a recent incident involving a Taser-related death.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California also objected to increasing the Sheriff’s Department’s budget, raising concerns about racial inequities and the potential for increased police violence resulting from hiring more deputies.
During the public hearing, numerous individuals echoed the call to “defund the police,” advocating for the redirection of funds toward social welfare initiatives, such as hiring mental health and health care workers and increasing the availability of affordable housing units. They emphasized the lack of trust people of color have in the Sheriff’s Department and urged the Board to invest in counselors and support workers.
Additional priorities outlined in the proposed budget include a significant allocation of $283 million for alternatives to incarceration, aiming to address racial disparities in the justice system. Furthermore, $49.6 million is designated for improving conditions in county jails, in response to a court order from the DOJ, while $6.6 million would fund the revival of the Sheriff’s Department’s Office of Constitutional Policing.
A substantial investment of $692 million to combat homelessness, with a $160 million increase from last year, is also included in the budget.
The proposed budget would create various positions, including 195 positions for the Department of Mental Health, 86 clinicians for county hospitals and clinics, 70 positions for the Department of Children and Family Services, and 60 positions responsible for fighting wildfires.
The budget is subject to revisions based on feedback from the Board of Supervisors and is expected to receive final approval on June 26, according to Board Chair Supervisor Janice Hahn.