LA looking at layoffs for as many as 951 cops, 728 civilian jobs

Faced with a growing financial crisis, budget analysts recommended cutting roughly 10% of rank-and-file officers

By David Zahniser, Richard Winton
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Faced with a growing financial crisis, Los Angeles city budget analysts recommended Friday that the city begin preparing for the elimination of nearly 1,900 filled positions, including 951 officers at the Police Department.

City Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn advised Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the City Council to lay plans for deep reductions at the LAPD, cutting the number of rank-and-file officers by roughly 10% while also eliminating 728 civilian jobs within the department.

If the city ultimately moves ahead with such reductions, the LAPD would likely have fewer police than at any point in 25 years.

In his 144-page report, Llewellyn said the cuts are needed to close a budget gap that's expected to reach $675 million by June 30, a crisis prompted by lower than expected hotel taxes, parking fines and other revenue compared with the prior year. Because the fiscal year is nearly half over, Garcetti and the council have less time to eliminate the gap, leaving them with far more aggressive cost-cutting proposals than in previous months.

The council is expected to take up Llewellyn's budget proposal in the coming weeks. The report recommends the elimination of positions at other city agencies, including 143 in the city attorney's office, 45 positions at animal services and 27 in the Bureau of Engineering.

The budget proposal is viewed by some at City Hall as an attempt to wring concessions from the Police Protective League, the rank-and-file police officers' union. Officers are on track to receive a 3.25% raise in January, followed by another 3% in 2022, and so far the union has shown no interest in forfeiting those increases.

For months, activist groups like Ground Game L.A. and the People's City Council have called on City Hall to make deep reductions at the LAPD, which consumes roughly $3 billion per year, as part of the growing movement to defund or abolish police. Although the LAPD represents less than 30% of the overall budget, it consumes half of the city's "unrestricted" funds, which Garcetti and the council are free to spend as they wish.

In the weeks following protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, council members cut the LAPD by $150 million, taking the force down to 9,757 — its lowest level since 2008. If the latest proposal is adopted, department staffing would, at minimum, fall below 9,000.

Police Chief Michel Moore broached the possibility of LAPD layoffs earlier this week, saying such a move would be "devastating" for public safety. Homicides so far this have reached their highest point in a decade and the number of shooting victims is up 40%, Moore said.

The prospect of layoffs for police officers has been raised at City Hall before in recent years but failed to materialize. In 2012, while arguing in favor of a half-cent sales tax measure to support the city budget, Police Chief Charlie Beck warned that a failure to approve the increase would probably result in the layoffs of 200 officers.

Voters rejected the measure, but those public safety job cuts did not occur.

[READ: Could furloughs be coming to your department?]

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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