The Los Angeles police union escalated its feud with Mayor Eric Garcetti this week after the mayor asked officers to crack down on “party houses” by reporting homes hosting large gatherings to the city so that the water and electricity can be shut off at those residences.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Garcetti last week authorized plans to cut off the water and electricity supply of those defying public health orders. Under the mayor’s directive, LAPD officers who respond to large gatherings can request that utilities be cut off within 48 hours. Homes where parties regularly occur are the target, the mayor said.
“Mayor Garcetti wants to reimagine policing. He should send his civilian staff to turn off people’s electricity & cut off their water,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) wrote on Twitter. “Let officers deal with the rise in shootings and killings in LA. We need a leader and not a political contortionist.”
Jerretta Sandoz, vice president of the union, told the Los Angeles Times it should not be the job of officers to be involved in shutting off utility services. “He wants to use police officers when it benefits him politically,” Sandoz said of the mayor.
The police union and the Democratic mayor have clashed since the mayor reversed course earlier in the year to increase the police budget in the wake of widespread racial injustice protests and instead decreased the law enforcement budget.
Sandoz said that officers already respond to party houses by issuing warnings and citations, but said it is “not our job” when it comes to working with the Department of Water and Power (DWP). She said it could exacerbate tensions in relations between community members and residents.
“If we are trying to bridge the gap between community relations and police, then why would we go out to a call like this, which would cause more friction?” Sandoz said.
Police union leaders have accused Garcetti and members of the L.A. City Council of hypocrisy — saying they’ve praised officer tactics at recent demonstrations over police brutality in private conversations with union representatives, but in public they blame officers for social tensions.
DWP spokeswoman Michelle Figueroa said that as of Sunday, the utility had not been asked to shut off water and power at any “party houses.”
Even before coronavirus, Los Angeles struggled to crack down on house parties in Hollywood Hills and other neighborhoods. Some residents said homeowners and property managers rented out homes to be the site of large parties with loud music and heavy drinking.