Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and members of the LA City Council got it right when they first approved a trash fee hike to grow the LAPD, and then allow the Department to continue to hire to attrition. Despite difficult economic times, our city leaders are putting public safety first.
Now, the Police Protective League wants the city to temporarily halt the hiring of new police officers, and allow the LAPD to use the 2 million in savings, to hire civilians. It’s a bad idea. The continued hiring of police officers is the lifeblood of this organization. Without it, the safety of the people of Los Angeles is at risk. For the past nine years, the LAPD has generated significant crime declines that has not only made our city safer, but has improved community police relations. The reason we have been able to reduce crime is because we have enough cops to do it.
During the rest of this fiscal year, the LAPD will save the city 40-million dollars by not paying officers cash overtime, and 10-million on civilian furloughs. The two million the city would save by not hiring anymore officers through the rest of this fiscal year won’t make enough of a difference. Bottom line, the LAPD can’t keep the city safe without continued hiring to attrition, and if you stop hiring, it will cost more in the long run.
It currently takes an average of one year for an applicant to get through the hiring process to be certified to enter the LAPD Academy. It takes another six months to complete it. That’s a year and a half from the time an individual applies, to the time when they can actually serve as a police officer. If we stop hiring now, it could take several years to recruit a new pool of applicants to be able to hire a full-size academy class on a regular basis.
After police hiring was slowed during fiscal year 2003-2004, it took approximately nine months and 3-million dollars to recruit enough viable candidates to hire full-size LAPD Academy classes every deployment period. That’s too high a price to pay for the city and for communities who will have fewer officers working to make our streets safer.
My priority as Chief of the LAPD is to continue to hire police officers so that I can deploy them where they are needed the most, in patrol. The LAPD has proven that if allowed to replace officers who leave or retire, we are a Department that can reduce crime by policing fairly and effectively, while creating public trust and cooperation.
Charlie Beck is the Chief of Police of the LAPD.