Los Angeles weighs layoffs for as much as 951 cops

Amid a growing financial crisis, budget analysts recommended the city of Los Angeles on Friday to prepare to eliminate nearly 1,900 vacancies, including 951 police officers.

City Council Officer Rich Llewellyn advised Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the city council to develop plans for deep cuts in the Los Angeles Police Department to cut the number of ordinary officers by about 10% while cutting 728 civilian jobs within the police department.

If city guides drive such reductions, the LAPD could have fewer officials than at any point in 25 years.

In his 144-page report, Llewellyn said the cuts are needed to fill a budget gap that is projected to reach $ 675 million by June 30 – a crisis that was and is triggered by coronavirus-related stalemates has resulted in lower than expected taxes, fees and other income. With the fiscal year almost halfway over, Garcetti and the Council have less time to fill the gap and have far more aggressive cost-cutting proposals than in previous months.

Llewellyn said the cuts, if approved, would affect the LAPD’s ability to respond to serious crimes, as well as causing a “sharp” increase in murder rates. “The cuts could also lead to the closure of police stations, he said.

“Finally, if the civil layoffs are approved [at the LAPD]”Sworn personnel would be reassigned to some civilian roles, further reducing the number of officers available to patrol,” Llewellyn wrote.

The Council’s Budget and Finance Committee is expected to take up Llewellyn’s budget proposal on Monday. The report also recommended deleting posts in other agencies, including 143 in the prosecution, 45 in animal services and 27 in the Bureau of Engineering.

It is not yet clear whether Garcetti and the Council will support the recommendations. In addition, the number of job cuts – and potential layoffs – could be reduced if department heads find other ways to contain spending.

Friday’s budget proposal is seen by some at City Hall as an attempt to make concessions to the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the simple union of police officers. Officials are due to receive a 3.25% increase next month, followed by another 3% in 2022, and so far the union has shown no interest in losing those increases.

If officials postponed the increase next month, it would save the city $ 17.7 million by June 30, a budget official said.

Craig Lally, president of the PPL, said LA politicians are pursuing deep cuts just as the city experiences a “shooting and murder epidemic”. The LAPD had already made a $ 150 million cut in July, with part of the proceeds being used to save civilian city workers from wage cuts.

“This latest proposal will continue to harass residents of Black and Hispanic Americans, who make up 70% of the victims of violent crime in LA,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”

Alex Comisar, an adviser to Garcetti, said the mayor sees layoffs as a last resort and is “doing everything possible to avoid them”.

“But without Washington’s support and our people’s solutions, deep and damaging cuts are inevitable,” he said in a statement. “The Mayor is working hard to cut costs wherever we can and bring the LA economy back as soon as possible.”

For months, activist groups such as Ground Game LA and the People’s City Council have been calling on City Hall to make sweeping cuts as part of the growing movement to defuse or abolish the police in the LAPD, which consumes around $ 3 billion annually.

Although the LAPD accounts for less than 30% of the total budget, it consumes half of the city’s “unrestricted” funds that Garcetti and the city council can spend freely.

In the weeks following the protests against George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, councilors cut the LAPD by $ 150 million and agreed to cut the armed forces to 9,757 by June 30, the lowest level since 2008, if the final round of downsizing takes place, assuming LAPD sworn staff would drop to 8,801, Llewellyn said in his report.

This would mean the department had the lowest headcount since the 1994/95 financial year, when the department had 8,410 civil servants. This is evident from records posted on the LAPD website and the employment figures made available to The Times.

At the time, the city was recording more than 800 murders a year, and then-mayor Richard Riordan had embarked on a major expansion of the department.

Police Chief Michel Moore said Friday that LAPD layoffs were a “big mistake” that hit a department that cut overtime, cut equipment purchases and cut the workforce by 350 officers. The number of murders is up 29% year-over-year and has now exceeded 300, the highest point in more than a decade. The number of victims of shootings has increased by almost 33%, according to the LAPD.

In the early 1990s, when the LAPD had fewer than 9,000 officers, the department also had fewer police stations and fewer controls to identify and punish officer misconduct, Moore said.

“I have no support for these types of reductions,” said the boss, adding, “It will endanger the future of the city and its security.”

Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, said any increase in crime was due to “a lack of adequate resources in the community.”

“It is irresponsible to continue to spend on a police system that does not solve crime, but places targets on the backs of our people,” said Abdullah in a statement. “Defund the police.”

Councilor Kevin de León, who represents a district in Boyle Heights-to-Eagle Rock, responded to Friday’s report that he intended to work with state and federal officials to get more help to help the city deal with the pandemic to help. Councilor Mike Bonin, who represents the coastal districts from Westchester to Pacific Palisades, has again called on the police union to postpone the upcoming increases.

Protecting the LAPD from cuts, Bonin said, would mean “bloodshed from departments that help tenants, seniors, small businesses, and children and families.”

Bill Przylucki, executive director of Ground Game, called the elimination of 951 officer positions a “positive move” and said the department had consumed too much of the city’s budget for too long. Layoffs in the LAPD would prevent additional reductions in parks, road repairs and other services, he added.

“We have to share these cuts fairly,” said Przylucki.

More than 15,000 civil city workers are expected to take eleven days of vacation from next year, which, according to a city budget official, corresponds to a 4% wage cut. Household officials are considering adding more vacation days to these workers.

The police union contract approved by Garcetti and the city council last year prohibits the city from taking leave of ordinary officials. Firefighters, plumbing workers and several other groups of workers are partially or completely exempt from vacation.

The prospect of firing police officers has been raised in the town hall in recent years, but has not materialized.

In 2012, Police Chief Charlie Beck warned that failing to approve the increase would likely result in the layoff of 200 officials while advocating a half-cent sales tax measure to help the city budget.

Voters opposed the measure in 2013, but this public safety downsizing did not take place.

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