LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles City Council committee spoke to Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore today about his department's funding needs for the next fiscal year as part of the process to review and make changes to Mayor Eric Garcetti's 2022-23 budget proposal, which would give the department a record $1.9 billion operating budget.
In the committee's third of six scheduled meetings to break down Garcetti's proposed $11.8 billion budget, Moore spoke to the committee's five council members about how the department would use the funding, and why it had requested even more.
The mayor's proposal accounts for a $149 million increase to the LAPD's operating budget, while the department and the police commission requested an increase of $213 million.
The mayor's funding proposal is partly aimed at bringing sworn staffing levels to 9,735, up from the 9,470 officers projected to be at the department by the end of the current fiscal year. The department's sworn personnel currently stand at 9,371.
The mayor's proposed $1.9 billion would be split, according to the proposal, as $931 million for field forces, $210 million for specialized investigations, $198 million for specialized enforcement and protection, $141 million for field support, $88 million for traffic control, $98 million for personnel training and support, $83 million for spending related to people and property in custody, $72 million for technology support, $61 million for internal integrity and standards enforcement and $28 million for general administration and support.
In a letter to the committee ahead of the meeting, Moore said Garcetti's proposed budget ``places the department on a path towards restoring services to the community and provides the resources necessary to address the challenges of rising crime caused by a brazen criminal element.''
He cited the increase in property crime and homicides that Los Angeles has experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar, and even more steep, increases have also been reported in other major cities across the U.S.
Moore said that after the pandemic shrank the LAPD's force, the funding ``is crucial'' to hiring more officers and to recruit applicants to the Police Academy. He added that it would give the department the opportunity to ``create a more diverse and equitable workforce of sworn and civilian employees.''
Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who sits on the Budget and Finance Committee and chairs the Public Safety Committee, requested a report from the department Thursday on how the proposed funding would actually go to recruitment of people of color and women. The Budget and Finance Committee Chair, Councilman Paul Krekorian, said $100,000 in the budget for targeted recruitment didn't sound like enough funding, and he asked for a report from the LAPD on what the necessary resources are to do ``a more thorough job of targeted recruitment.''
Moore also said the proposed budget would fulfill the department's sworn overtime needs for criminal investigations and programs that address specific issues, such as human trafficking, as well as the needs for the city as it emerges from the pandemic, with courts reopening, and officers asked to testify.
Public safety has emerged as a leading issue in the 2022 mayoral election, and the city's new mayor will be in office for the second half of the next fiscal year. While some candidates and members of the public have called for an increase to LAPD's forces to address the increase in crime, others in Los Angeles -- including mayoral, City Council and controller candidates -- are calling for a decrease in funding to the police department in order to fund affordable housing, mental health services and anti-poverty programs that they say will reduce crime and in turn reduce the need for policing.
Some people called in to the committee meeting Thursday to oppose the increase to the police's budget. One caller, who said she was a student and resident in Los Angeles, called in to urge the City Council to reduce police spending, saying ``every single year we see again and again a disproportionate amount of L.A.'s city budget being given to the police. But why? Every single year we prove how ineffective the LAPD is. Crime has not been reduced. Homelessness has not been reduced. Citizens are not being quote-unquote protected and served.''
People who support reducing the police budget also point to an increase in shootings by officers in 2021 after the LAPD reached a three-decade low in 2019.
``I just want to make sure Paul Kerkorian remembers Valentina Orellana-Peralta, who was murdered in your district, the 14-year-old child, as you give $150 million more to the LAPD,'' a caller identified as Adam Smith said, referring to the teen who was killed by an officer's stray bullet at a Burlington Coat Factory store in North Hollywood on Dec. 23.
Councilman Curren Price asked Moore about the proposed budget's $7.3 million for implementation of recommendations in three reports that found the department mishandled aspects of its response to 2020 protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis. The department has asked for about double the funding that was proposed for implementation of the plan.
LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said the department wants to conduct ``ongoing continuing training'' to prepare officers for events like the 2020 protests and dedicated staff responsible for training to all officers on a two-year cycle.
Moore said ``the Achilles heal in American policing is that we don't train and when we do train we tend to take it from field forces, which is costly as calls for service and demands for public safety asks for presence of officers.''
``We need to shift that model and this budget takes a step in that direction and what we (asked for) was what it would take to make that full step,'' he added.
Council members requested several reports from the LAPD as part of its review of the department's budget needs. Councilman Bob Blumenfield and Rodriguez asked about how the department can combat street racing and traffic fatalities, specifically in the San Fernando Valley. Councilman Kevin de León requested a report on how the department can bring back its HOPE (Homeless Outreach Proactive Engagement) Teams, which Moore said were shut down due to personnel loss during the pandemic. He also asked for a report on increasing police presence in Boyle Heights by paying overtime to officers in the Hollenbeck Division.
Krekorian asked for a report with policy recommendations for expediting the process for increasing staffing levels of sworn and civilian employees at the LAPD.
``This is not a budget request but I do want us to continue to be mindful of it and keep a pin in that issue so we can continue to work on it,'' Krekorian said.
The committee chair also asked for a report on the department's most significant technology needs that aren't in the proposed budget, with a focus on technology that ``would increase officer efficiency and make it easier to deliver public safety.''
The committee will continue budget hearings through the beginning of next week as city departments speak to committee members about their budget needs in the next fiscal year. The schedule is:
-- Friday, 1 to 7 p.m., during which the Board of Public Works, the Bureau of Contract Administration, the Bureau of Street Lighting, the Bureau of Engineering, the Bureau of Street Services, the Emergency Management Department, the Department on Disability, the Department of Aging and the Community Investment for Families Department
-- Monday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., during which Los Angeles Animal Services, the City Clerk, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Department of General Services, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, El Pueblo, the Convention and Tourism Department, the Office of Public Accountability, Neighborhood Empowerment, the Youth Development Department and the CAO
-- Tuesday, May 3, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., during which the Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System, the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions, labor representatives and the neighborhood councils.