Eyewitness Newsmakers: LAPD chief says zero-bail policy sets unequal stage for law enforcement

ByMarc Brown and Alan Gitterman KABC logo
Sunday, August 13, 2023
LAPD chief: Zero-bail policy sets unequal stage for law enforcement
Does L.A. County's zero-bail policy for non-violent offenders mean zero consequences? Marc Brown talks to L.A.'s top cop on Eyewitness Newsmakers.

Shoplifters are often caught in the act time after time on camera, in front of witnesses, and they just don't seem to care. Does L.A. County's zero-bail policy for non-violent offenders mean zero consequences? When it comes to shop owners and workers, what's legal and what's not when it comes to stopping thieves in their tracks? Can a shrinking LAPD address this growing problem? Marc Brown talks to LAPD Chief Michel Moore on Eyewitness Newsmakers.

Zero-bail policy

It's a controversial policy that prohibits the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department from requiring cash bail for individuals arrested for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses.

Chief Moore says California law has lowered the consequences facing many repeat offenders. He also said that when these cases do end up in court, suspects often end up right back on the streets.

Plus, a zero-bail policy sets an unequal stage for the law enforcement community, the chief said. He said when someone commits a crime in a city like Glendale, for instance, they will face bail, while those who commit the same crime in the city of Los Angeles will not have to put up bail. Moore calls this an unequal setting.

Severe staffing shortage

The Los Angeles Police Department is facing a severe staffing shortage. Chief Moore says the LAPD now has fewer than 9,000 officers, which is a historic low. Moore says the last time the department had such a low number of officers was more than two decades ago when the city of Los Angeles was much smaller in size.

It's not just a shortage of sworn police officers, but also the civilian workforce, which is down by more than 350 individuals.Chief Moore says he's grateful that Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has committed in her first budget a record number of hiring goals for sworn and professional staff in the Los Angeles Police Department. Hiring more officers comes during a challenging job market. The police chief says other law enforcement agencies across the nation are also facing staffing shortages.

LAPD attrition

Another problem facing the LAPD is attrition. Chief Moore says in a typical year, 450 to 500 people retire from the force, but that number is now closer to 700. Also, between 200 and 250 LAPD employees are leaving for other agencies on an annual basis.

The department is now actively recruiting from the military, colleges, vocational centers and the general public. The chief says if his department can hire close to 800 new officers a year, it will begin restoring the ranks to staffing levels that are desperately needed to improve response time, community safety and community engagement.

He said that's especially important ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the 2028 Olympics and 2028 Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.