LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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.
More than 220 police officers in specialized units already are being reassigned to patrol and other jobs as the LAPD disbands or downsizes the units, including those focusing on traffic, sexual assault, homeless outreach and the robbery-homicide division, KABC-TV reported, citing a department memo.
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.”
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.”