Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles City Council is considering a plan to slash over 600 positions from the city’s police force in a move that the police chief said would devastate department operations.
The defunded Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is already reeling from a hiring freeze and a $150 million budget cut.
“This is not saber-rattling, looking at staffing levels (of what) a hiring freeze alone would do,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore told KNBC. “All operations will be shuttered in the Harbor Jail, in the Pacific Jail in the Hollywood yard. These are jails that are (local) … that allow officers to book, process and release individuals locally, rather than at our three regional jails.”
The LAPD forensics unit would also suffer a massive blow if the proposed layoffs are approved, Chief Moore said.
“The types of cuts that are being envisioned here take us back 15…to 30 years,” he told KNBC.
The LAPD layoffs Los Angeles City Administrative Officer Richard Llewellyn pushed for in a budget report he released on Dec. 4 were even more staggering, KCBS reported.
Llewellyn proposed cutting 1,679 positions from the police force – 951 sworn positions and 728 civilian positions – for a projected “savings” of approximately $51 million.
“We recognize the gravity of this recommendation,” Llewellyn told the city council on Tuesday. “Each of these employees provides important services, and our residents need and will miss that service.”
“We also understand that we are throwing upside down the lives of each and every one of these employees,” he added. “Still, we did not see another way to cover the current shortfall.”
However, the overwhelming majority of cuts are only to law enforcement services.
Llewellyn insisted the city council enact all of the recommendations in the budget report, to include the LAPD layoffs, 143 layoffs in the City Attorney’s Office, another 45 layoffs in the Animal Services Department, and 27 more in the Bureau of Engineering, KNBC reported.
Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) President Craig Lally blasted the proposed layoffs last week.
“It’s appalling that city officials and politicians are more interested in fattening their political slush funds by defunding the police department through laying off nearly 1,000 officers,” Lally told KNBC at the time.
“The LAPD has been cut by $150 million to spare civilian layoffs and create huge reserves, and this latest proposal will further victimize Black and Hispanic residents who make up 70% of L.A.’s violent crime victims,” he ranted, calling the proposal “disgusting.”
The city council’s Budget and Finance Committee ultimately voted Monday to recommend cutting 355 sworn officer positions and 273 civilian positions from the LAPD – about two-thirds less than Llewellyn recommended.
The vote did not enact the layoffs, but keeps them under consideration for potential implementation as the city works to figure out how to offset a $675 million budget shortfall, KNBC reported.
The city is also expected to use up most of what remains in its $250 million reserve fund, and will need to borrow $150 million more.
The full City Council voted Tuesday to move ahead with the recommendations, KNBC reported.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he hopes to avoid employee layoffs altogether, but said the city is prepared to do so as a last resort.
“I hope that [layoffs are] at the very bottom of the list,” Garcetti told KNBC. “It hits our most vulnerable employees and key services.”
Officers and other city workers would likely start losing their jobs in March or April if the council opts to move ahead with the layoffs, KNBC reported.
The LAPD has already been forced to dramatically cut back on the amount of services it provides to the community in an effort to offset the $150 million budget cut that resulted from anti-police protests earlier this year.
As a result of the defunding, LAPD was left with no choice but to downsize many specialized units, including its homicide, gang, air support, and narcotics divisions, as homicides soared to the highest level in a decade, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We need to offload a number of responsibilities,” Chief Moore told the paper in early November.
Police officers will no longer respond in person to traffic crashes or other so-called low-priority incidents.
Citizens who are involved in crashes with minor injuries or those who are the victims of hit-and-runs will have to file their own reports online, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Station desks will only be manned during the weekdays.
The police department will no longer have special deployments in high-traffic areas such as Hollywood and Venice, and has also had to cut teams that have helped in the past to deal with homeless issues, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A total of 234 officers will be moved back into patrol duties to cover the shortfall, according to KTLA.
Chief Moore said that the defunded department is being forced to cut its ranks from approximately 10,110 sworn officers to around 9,752 by March or April of next year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Those figures don’t include the civilian employee positions that will also be eliminated, nor do they include the potential layoffs currently being considered by the city council.
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah complained that the defunding “doesn’t go nearly far enough,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Abdullah said her group will be providing the city with a list of programs where they think the funds diverted from the LAPD should be applied.
Chief Moore said that the dramatic cuts have created voids in emergency service response that the city still hasn’t figured out how to solve.
He said he has been working to identify “other agencies and organizations to hand that baton to,” but that replacement agencies and organizations have provided mixed responses thus far, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The cuts to law enforcement come as Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón just put an immediate end to cash bail for misdemeanors that will allow thousands of inmates awaiting trial to be released, KTLA reported.
Gascón said he also planned to do away with cash bail for felonies at the start of the New Year, except in the cases of the most violent offenders.
He also promised to re-evaluate the cases and sentences of defendants who had been convicted under the “Three Strikes” law or who had gang enhancements added to their sentences, The Washington Post reported.
Gascón has estimated that move could affect up to as many as 20,000 currently incarcerated felons.
The new district attorney has also expressed a desire to direct defendants arrested on low-level offenses related to poverty, addiction, mental illness, and homelessness into behavior health services rather than the criminal justice system, The Washington Post reported.