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City council committees: Stop hiring cops

October 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two Los Angeles City Council committees are recommending the city stop hiring new police officers. They say the city can't afford to pay anymore. That idea doesn't sit well with the top brass.The number of cops is up, crime is down. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton says that's no accident.

"Having enough cops to deal with crime is critical to that effort," said Bratton. "I think some of the city's councils proposals are very short-sighted."

Bratton is upset that two city council committees are recommending the LAPD stop new recruitment classes and stop hiring officers, beginning next month.

"Once again the political leadership of this city has told a lie," said Bratton. "They told the public we were going to grow this department with your tax dollars. Well, if they're going to shrink the department, well, they better give those tax dollars back."

With the city facing a huge budget deficit, officials say they don't have the money.

"We need major change. We cannot afford to continue to hire the new officers right now," said L.A. City Councilman Greig Smith. "We're not cutting the department, but we're not going to hire anymore right now, and that is the appropriate thing to do."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made it his goal to increase the number of officers to 10,000. But city council members say with talk now of furloughs there's no reason to continue attracting recruits.

"It makes no sense to hire officers and furlough officers," said L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine. "What you're going to furlough is experienced personnel, furlough experienced police officers and put additional personnel on. If we're going to furlough, we need to stop hiring."

"Well, if they're going to shrink the department, well, they better give those tax dollars back, and if the public lets them get away with it again this time, well, I'll be watching with great interest 3,000 miles away as the crime rate goes up and I'll sit over there and say, 'I told you so,'" said Bratton.

One proposal will eliminate the November class of new police recruits. City council members say they'll now monitor the levels on a monthly basis to make sure it stays at 10,000 officers.

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