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Sep 2016
LAPD Feels Squeeze in Staffing for Coliseum Football
Patrick Healy

Police staffing for the Coliseum's busiest fall football season in two decades is putting additional strain on LAPD resources, according to department officials.

For each Los Angeles Rams and USC Trojans game, the Los Angeles Police Department commits several hundred officers, some on overtime and the rest on straight time redeployment - which means they miss a day working their usual assignment that week.

"When you take from somewhere and give to somewhere else, you have to backfill," LAPD Capt. Paul Espinosa said.

To avoid that, the union representing officers believes all game day deployments should go to officers who have volunteered to work overtime. The Los Angeles Police Protective League has been pushing for the Rams to cover the entire overtime cost for Rams games.

The office of Mayor Eric Garcetti has been in discussions with the Rams organization, but has yet to reach an agreement.

Meantime, another ramification of game day redeployments has become apparent: a reduction in available time for officers at LAPD shooting ranges.

This is particulary critical at this time of year, when most LAPD officers are required to pass a range test demonstrating their handgun proficiency. They have a seven week period to "qualify." It began Sept. 3 and ends Oct. 24. Only officers with more than 30 years experience are exempt.

During this time there are six Coliseum football days - three Rams, three Trojans. Like all LAPD officers and sergeants, those who work training division are also subject to the game day redeployments, and this is in part responsible for reducing range dates and times.

Memos have gone out emphasizing that officers should try to get in their qualifying early in the cycle.

"Sometimes it's a matter of working smarter and harder, and that's what we're doing," commanding officer for in-service training Espinosa said. He expressed confidence that arrangements will be made so that all officers have a chance to fulfill the required qualifying.

Redeployments for game days are drawn largely from special assignments, such as detectives, to avoid drawing down patrol staffing.

"We're trying to keep those patrol resources where they need to be and that's out in the field responding to calls," Espinosa added.

"The security of fans attending our games is our top priority," the Rams organization has pledged in written statements.

Without commenting directly on the content of discussions with Garcetti's office and the LAPD, Rams spokeswoman Joann Hunter has said the organization expects to "finalize arrangements" before the regular season home opener in the Coliseum on the 18th.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League has estimated the cost to the Rams and its billionaire owner Stan Kroenke would be around $200,000 per game day.

"We're excited to have the Rams back in Los Angeles," Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz, a League VP, said. "But we want him to do the right thing and pay the officers' overtime. You know, pay his fair share."

LAPD officers who work inside the Coliseum on game days already do so as overtime, with the cost covered by the Rams and USC for their respective home games. The redeployed on duty officers work outside the stadium.

The League believes arrangements for USC game days should be reviewed next.



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