Acknowledging police aren’t the most popular people right now, LAPD Assistant Police Chief Robert Arcos addressed a small crowd of people holding “Black Lives Matter” signs at Tapestry Church over the weekend.
The LAPD and police departments all over the country have come under fire for their use of excessive force against peaceful protestors and lack of accountability for a long history of systemic racism. These protests came after the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is being charged with second-degree murder.
Advocates for criminal justice and homeless Angelenos are suing the LAPD for use of excessive force and violating the people’s right to assemble. The suit was filed two weeks ago by the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Black Lives Matter and Los Angeles Community Action Network.
Before Arcos began his statement, he issued an apology to a victim of police brutality and thanked her for her words and vulnerability.
“I am sorry for the experience you had,” Arcos said to the woman in the crowd as her eyes welled with tears. “Please know that you are loved by everyone here, including myself. God bless you.”
During his speech, he talked about his love for Los Angeles and the power of prayer, and thanked the church for praying for the officers.
“We must end systemic racism,” he said. “We have to end police brutality. We have to end bias. Police departments have to be held accountable.”
During his time as a police officer, Arcos said he has been critical of the “ugly things” he’s seen.
“I saw things that were not compassionate that was counter to our values,” he said. “But I’ve also seen change in this police department.”
An LAPD officer, Frank Hernandez, is being charged with one felony count of assault under color of authority after a video went viral of him repeatedly punching a suspect in Boyle Hills.
“(About) 99.9% of our officers are doing the right thing, I promise you,” Arcos said. “Those who are not, we want them booted out.”
The LAPD is investigating 56 allegations of police misconduct during the past two weeks of protests. Two weeks ago, a video of an LAPD cruiser accelerating into a group of protestors Downtown went viral. Many are calling to defund the police.
The City Council recently announced it would not increase its budget as planned and would instead divest $150 million to $250 million to predominately black low-income communities. Despite their efforts, many Angelenos are calling to defund the police force further or abolish it completely.
While many think the idea of abolishing the police is far-fetched, Minneapolis officials confirmed their consideration to disband their police department. It’s already a reality in Camden, New Jersey, where the police department has been dissolved since 2012. The city saw a drop in crime by close to half, after being known as one of the most violent cities in the United States.
“We are progressing,” he said. “We are reforming. It’s not enough, I know, but it is coming, and with your help, with your voice, we will get there, I promise you. Please trust in them.”