Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore Thursday spoke before the L.A. City Council Budget and Finance Committee to outline his case for his department’s budget increase under Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 2021-22 fiscal year proposal, which would give the department about $1.76 billion.
In the committee’s third of eight meetings to break down Garcetti’s proposed $11.2 billion budget, Moore spoke to the committee’s five council members about why he thinks the department needs the funding proposed, calling the budget “a good budget.”
The Los Angeles Police Department would receive the most funding in the proposed budget, with a $1.76 billion budget, a 3% increase from when the Los Angeles City Council cut $150 million from the department’s budget last July.
The mayor’s office notes that all other city departments would receiving a 9% increase in the budget, and the LAPD budget is a 5% reduction from the initial 2020-21 budget proposal.
Moore spoke about an increase in violent crime and gun violence in the city in 2020 and 2021, which he attributed to “significant impact the pandemic has had on every aspect of our lives” after a decade of decreasing homicides and gun violence.
He said that the budget increase would allow the department to increase sworn personnel to 9,751 officers. In July 2020 the department had 9,951 officers, but it is expected to decrease to 9,501 by June of this year due to attrition and a decrease in hiring due to the current fiscal year’s budget crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 95% of the proposed budget goes to paying personnel, Moore said.
“Those are staffing numbers that will allow us to continue to operate in our current configuration with reduced services that have already been experienced in various parts of the city while providing the most essential patrol and investigative resources on violent crime and other critical matters,” Moore said. He added that the budget would let officers fill 60 of its vacancies for police service representatives, which are civilian employees that receive 911 calls and dispatch officers.
According to Moore, the answer rate for 911 calls within 15 seconds is 63% which he attributed to the department’s hiring freeze and attrition. There are about 80 police service representative vacancies.
Moore also said the budget would also provide for adequate overtime funding for officers after the department decreased officer overtime by 50%.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the committee, requested a report from the police department on performance metrics for overtime, which he said “accrues at a rate that is phenomenally expensive.”
“What did we get for what we paid for?” Krekorian asked. “What should be a performance metric benchmark going forward in the view of the department?”
He also asked the department to analyze if a change in the deployment schedule would decrease overtime, but he noted that would be too large of a change to address in this budget year.
“I would like this discussion happening this year,” Krekorian said.
He noted that some council members want to explore reallocating overtime funding to unarmed response and other alternatives to dispatch programs. Krekorian said that in order to successfully do that, there needs to be a report on what is achieved through overtime funding.
Moore told the committee that the budget would allow the department to focus on “alternatives to dispatch” programs.
Of the calls for service that came in, the department diverted 18,642, Moore said.
— 16,767 were diverted to an online reporting system;
— 1,085 were transferred to homeless outreach services via 211;
— 539 were transferred to city services via 311; and
— 251 were transferred to Didi Hirsch mental health professionals between Feb. 1 and April 24.
He claimed that with additional funding, the department could divert 216,000 calls for service to alternative services.
However, Krekorian noted that the department and the city needs to figure out who is going to handle these calls if not the police department.
“Sure, there’s a lot of things that we could divert off of LAPD’s plate that all of us would love to do,” he said. He asked Moore to report back on the most immediate types of service that calls could be diverted.
Several organizations and activists, including Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Nicolas Emmons of Ktown for All, and Kenneth Mejia, who is running for city controller, called into the Tuesday’s committee meeting to oppose the budget due to the significant amount of funding allocated to the police department. The department routinely receives the most funding of any Los Angeles department.
“We are demanding that we defund the police, that money is taken from the police and reallocated to other services and resources that actually support the community, especially the Black community and our most vulnerable populations,” said a caller in support of the Peoples Budget L.A.
A woman named Kim, who said she was with Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, also said she was disappointed in the increased police budget in the proposal.
“The money that you’re spending in this budget is our money, it’s not your money, it’s not the mayor’s money, so I don’t understand why you wouldn’t listen to the people, the constituents, that are telling you how they would like their money spent,” she said.
During the budget hearing, Krekorian called on Moore and the department to improve its workplace culture and report back on processes and funding needed to accomplish the improvement.
“When it comes to workplace issues, that’s really purely a management issue and it’s a culture issue within the department and we just need to do better. We need to do better in ensuring that LAPD’s workforce is free of discrimination, free of retaliation,” Krekorian said.
He also asked for the department to prioritize transferring tasks that can be handled by civilian employees from sworn officers. The department was directed to report back to the committee on “the areas of civilian hiring that are highest priority to ensure public safety.”