The LAPD is preparing for drastic reorganization efforts after city leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, decided in the summer to reduce the department's budget by $150 million amid calls to "defund the police" after George Floyd's May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody.
"The sexual assault unit – this is one of the cutbacks that we're doing within the realignment – those specialized detectives will be moved out to the geographic bureaus," LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the outlet.
A Los Angeles police officer died from the coronavirus Friday, marking the first officer in the department to succumb to the illness. (Los Angeles Police Department)
The LAPD did not respond to an inquiry from Fox News.
The department will try to keep officers with specific skill sets working in their areas of expertise, but some are worried that officers will lack certain knowledge when dealing with complicated cases, according to NBC4.
"I hope it doesn’t have a negative effect," Yvette Lozano, chief programs and operations officer for sexual violence advocacy nonprofit Peace Over Violence, told the outlet in regard to the possible removal of its Special Victims Unit (SVU).
The Animal Cruelty Task Force will also be dissolved, and several other units could face significant personnel reductions, including Air Support, the Metropolitan Division, Gangs and Narcotics and Commercial Crimes, NBC4 reported.
The Los Angeles Unified School Board approved a $25 million reduction in the district police budget. (Los Angeles School Police Department / Twitter)
The department's focus right now is to respond to emergencies, Moore told NBC4.
"I can't take those 350 people out of patrol," Moore said. "They would just absolutely decimate our patrol, staffing. So we're looking at our specialized areas. And some of them we’re downsizing and others we’re eliminating, if the work can be done by a general detective or a detective at an area level, or uniform officer at a station."
The department has seen a slight reduction in sexual assault investigations since last year. In 2019, the LAPD recorded 875 rape or attempted rape cases and collected evidence in 449 sexual assault cases, whereas it recorded 684 rape or attempted rape cases and collected evidence from 376 cases in 2020, NBC4 reported.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva warned in June that budget cuts could lead to the elimination of the SVU and other operations.