Police Commission backs a 12% increase in LAPD budget for next year

The request for more funding comes after the City Council cut $150 million from the LAPD in 2020


By Dakota Smith
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday approved a $213-million budget increase for the Police Department next year, a plan that would raise police staffing levels.

The commission voted to approve LAPD Chief Michel Moore's request for a $1.9-billion budget, representing a 12% increase in spending from the general fund over this year. More than half of the increase would cover police salary, related expenses and overtime costs, according to a letter Moore sent to the commissioners last week.

Moore wrote that he is seeking funding to add 94 positions to boost sworn staffing levels to 9,800 positions and to restore civilian positions lost through a recent city separation incentive program.

Homicides this year are up 14% over last year and up 45% compared with 2019, LAPD statistics show. The city is also seeing a rise in violent robberies, spurred by an availability of handguns, Moore told reporters at an afternoon briefing.

"The number of handguns that are in the streets today — you'd have to go back probably at least a decade or more to find this level," Moore said.

The proposed LAPD budget also includes $313,000 for staff to support the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Moore said it's not yet clear whether the city will seek reimbursement from the committee planning the Games or from state or federal resources.

The request for more funding for LAPD resources comes after the City Council cut $150 million from the department in 2020, with the goal of putting that money into social services. Those cuts followed massive demonstrations over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

However, the council this year backed a modest increase to the police budget.

The commission vote Tuesday sent the budget proposal to Mayor Eric Garcetti to consider. The mayor releases an overall proposed spending plan in April, which is then taken up by the City Council.

Craig Lally, president of the union representing police officers, said the commission's support for more police officers is a "stride in the right direction" amid rising crime incidents, including the shooting death of a man on Sunset Boulevard on Tuesday morning.

"As the city grapples with increases in gun crimes, homicides and fatal follow-home robberies, it is critical that the department recovers from the 'defund the police' cuts and that city leaders stop listening to the reckless ideas of anti-police groups," Lally said.

Police Commission President William Briggs, speaking at Tuesday's meeting, cited the recent robberies of businesses and predicted more such crimes during the holiday.

"I too hear all the members of the community talking about 'defund the police,' 'We don't want the police,'" Briggs said. "My question is, do you like crime? Seriously, I don't think any civic-minded person wants to see another person assaulted, shot, robbed."

Speakers phoned into Tuesday's meeting, with some supporting more police officers to combat crime, while other callers said the commissioners should redirect the funds.

Activists want LAPD's budget reallocated to help pay for social service providers and mental health clinicians to assist those who are mentally ill, homeless or addicted to drugs.

Akili, an organizer with Black Lives Matter-L.A., told the commissioners to "refund" the community.

"We've proven over and over again that when you invest in people, in their communities, you can reduce crimes," said Akili, who goes by a single name. "Because we know what keeps us safe, it's resources, it's resources."

Garcetti, asked Tuesday about the proposed LAPD budget, said the city "needs to put dollars into crime-fighting that works and into programs that work." He also said he supports hiring to "not fall further, which is a real worry."

The mayor spent the morning highlighting a program that sends outreach workers rather than law enforcement to respond to 911 calls related to homeless individuals.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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