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Union: Stop hiring, then pay cops overtime

December 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Should the LAPD pay out overtime instead of hiring new officers? The police union thinks so.The Los Angeles Police Protective League union is suggesting that instead of replacing officers who retire or quit, to use that money to pay for the overtime instead of having officers simply take the time off. The chief counters by saying that it's actually more cost-effective to hire replacements than it is to allow the department to shrink.

There are just under 10,000 Los Angeles Police Department officers on the force. The police union wants the department to stop hiring more cops and instead to start paying existing officers overtime instead of having them take time off after accruing a certain amount of hours.

L.A. Police Protective League President Paul Weber says a temporary hiring freeze will help pay for the overtime.

"The people of Los Angeles deserve to have police officers out on the street doing police work and I think a temporary halt will give us some breathing room and allow us to meet those cost savings and allow the general manager and chief of police to use those savings that best fit this police department," said Weber.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says that he is currently replacing cops who have retired or left the department and that it's actually cheaper to hire more police than to pay the overtime.

"Overtime alone is $80 million a year," said Beck. "That's what we've cut from the overtime budget. What it costs to hire police officers for the rest of this fiscal year, because many have only worked a few months, is about $2 million. So it's not an either-or thing. I can't just stop hiring and pay overtime. There's not enough money."

City council members said they don't see a smaller LAPD in the city's future. In fact Councilman Bill Rosendahl wants to lift the civilian hiring freeze for the department.

"I don't want able-bodied cops answering phones and doing secretarial stuff or administrative stuff," said Rosendahl. "They should be out serving us and the greater community."

"I just feel that reducing the police, when it would appear that we are getting some kind of positive hold or handle on crime -- I just don't feel comfortable at this point in time," said L.A. City Councilman Herb Wesson.

For people who live and work in the city of L.A., they are split on the issue.

"I feel safe out here, I don't feel threatened by walking around here at night or anything. I think the police department is fine," said Jessica Bascara.

"They should shrink it down a little bit, definitely," said Jared Campos. "The cost is too high. We've got to make the cuts just like everyone else is nowadays."

Wesson and Rosendahl said next spring is when budget negotiations begin, so everything is on the table. One of the things Rosendahl says he is going to fight for is to bring back civilian employees to allow more cops on the streets instead of having them do clerical work inside the station.


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