City Hall’s struggle to come up with responsible budget solutions became even clearer on Tuesday when the Budget and Finance Committee proposed six furlough days for police officers beginning in January.
Committee members were apparently cool to Mayor Villaraigosa’s idea of borrowing $42.6 million to get the city through the coming year. They proposed their own plan instead, which includes new budget cuts and furlough days for sworn police officers and certain firefighters.
Has the Committee forgotten that we are already putting 540 police officers on forced time off to avoid paying them overtime? On top of this, 154 officers are filling critical civilian positions, and at least 60 more are working at the jail to fill in for detention officers the City won’t hire.
Every 100 officers pulled from field work to backfill civilian positions roughly equates to removing 30 police cars citywide. This dramatically impacts the LAPD’s ability to respond to calls and keep crime down. The League hears it from members every day, how they are spending more time in the stations doing administrative work instead of addressing crime on the streets.
But the City insists on hiring new officers instead of properly allocating the experienced resources it already has, and now the Budget Committee is threatening current officers with unnecessary and irresponsible furloughing. Why keep hiring when the City still needs to cut millions of dollars from its budget?
The Mayor’s budget will be presented to the full city council today, with voting set for next week. Over the past year, the League has offered many solutions that save money while preserving public safety. We hope our leaders will put public safety first and find better ideas than officer furloughing.