A budget proposal on Friday called for the Police Department to eliminate nearly 1,000 officer jobs — even though it could harm crime-fighting as the city struggles to close a huge budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposal from City Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn calls for deep cuts in many departments, including the LAPD, which already saw a $150 million reduction in its $3 billion budget earlier this year after police brutality protesters called for defunding police in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis.
That reduction and additional cuts would affect the jobs of 951 sworn officers and hundreds of civilian jobs. The LAPD already dropped below 10,000 officers earlier this year and the proposed cuts would reduce sworn staffing to around 8,800 for its lowest level since 1995, Llewellyn said.
The cuts “will significantly impact public safety services” at a time when the city is experiencing a “drastic” rise in homicide rates with about 300 so far this year, his proposal said. It will be reviewed by the City Council.
The cuts could result in the closing of some LAPD divisions and affect response times for emergency calls, his proposal said.
Los Angeles is trying to close a projected $675 million budget shortfall sparked by tax and other revenue losses because of business shutdowns and personal restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The estimate doesn’t include fallout from a new stay-at-home order that goes into effect Saturday as virus cases threaten to overwhelm intensive care unit beds in many areas.
Los Angeles has asked employee unions to allow it to delay planned pay increases but the LAPD officers’ union, the Police Protective League, has so far refused. Officers are due a 3.25% raise next month.
The cuts are being proposed in the midst of a “shooting and homicide epidemic,” league President Craig Lally told the Los Angeles Times.
Coming atop the $150 million reduction, “this latest proposal will further victimize Black and Hispanic residents who make up 70% of L.A.’s violent crime victims,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”
Meanwhile, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement late Friday that he “cannot support further reductions.”
“These envisioned staffing reductions would devastate our ability to provide basic public safety, requiring the closure of local stations and jails, the reduction and elimination of services, and ultimately it would jeopardize the reforms and gains achieved in public safety over the last two decades,” Moore stated Friday evening.
He added that maintaining public safety should be the city government’s top priority “in this time of such turmoil and crisis.”
“It’s what the residents of this great city want, expect and deserve,” Moore said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city is still talking with the league and added that he hoped to avoid layoffs, possibly with hoped-for federal assistance, calling it “the very last option that we have.”