Los Angeles city councilor Joe Buscaino said Thursday that he would seek a major expansion of the law enforcement agency when elected mayor, increasing the LAPD to 11,000 officials by 2027.
Buscaino, one of several candidates running to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti in next year’s elections, said additional officials are needed at a time when murders and other crimes are on the rise. The LAPD is budgeted at around 9,700 civil servants for this year, but has been nearly 200 below that number in recent weeks.
Michael Trujillo, a campaign strategist for Buscaino, said the hiring plan would be achieved not by asking for higher taxes or fees, but by setting priorities within the city’s existing budget. He would not say which programs, if any, would have to be cut to achieve such a substantial increase in staff.
“We believe we can work on it every year until we achieve it [11,000] in the fifth year, ”said Trujillo.
Buscaino, a former cop, is running in a year when there will likely be more murders in LA than ever since 2006. The number of people shot dead is more than 50% compared to two years ago, the last full year without increased COVID-19, according to figures published on the LAPD website.
How well Buscaino’s campaign promise will resonate is not certain. Activists have argued for the past two years that the LAPD should be given less, not more, dollars, and the proceeds should be diverted into housing and welfare programs. On Thursday, LAPD officials killed two people – including a 14-year-old girl – during a shootout at a Burlington store in North Hollywood.
The council voted in July 2020 to reduce the number of officers at the LAPD following widespread protests against police abuse following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Buscaino then gave one of two votes against.
At the end of the financial year, the number of sworn employees had fallen to under 9,400. By then, councilors had voted to begin rebuilding staff and increasing the number of troops to 9,700.
City of Atty. Mike Feuer, who is also running for mayor, promised earlier this year to reset the LAPD to more than 10,000 officers. But he has also argued that to make communities safer, the city needs to invest more money in mental health counselors, social workers, neighborhood cleanups, and gun prevention programs.
“Buscaino’s proposal is a slogan. It’s not a plan, ”he said. “The real question, I might suggest, is what ingredients make LA safer? Is it a number with nothing below it, or is it all of these comprehensive strategies? “
The US MP Karen Bass, who is also running for mayor, declined through a spokeswoman to comment on Buscaino’s proposal. Another candidate, business leader Jessica Lall, said she wanted to take stock of the LAPD’s workload before announcing how many officials the agency should have.
“LA needs a strong public safety policy first, not just a destination number with no plan,” said Lall, who heads downtown Central City Assn.
Mel Wilson, a San Fernando Valley businessman who also plans to replace Garcetti, said he supports the idea of adding more than 1,000 additional officers – but would also like to see a patrol plan.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, let’s get 11,000 officers,'” he said. “But you really have to say, ‘Well, how are these officers used?’ ”
Trujillo said his boss anticipated any additional civil servants would cost the city $ 150,000, including health and pension costs. Buscaino could also tap state and federal funds to fund the initiative, he said.
Police attitudes have been an issue at every LA mayoral contest for the past 20 years.
James Hahn was elected in 2001 after promising to add 1,000 more officials. But four years later his opponent beat up Antonio Villariagosa Hahn for failing to achieve that goal.
Villaraigosa defeated Hahn in 2005 and vowed to succeed at the LAPD where his predecessor hadn’t. By the time he stepped down, Villaraigosa had added about 800 officers, ensuring that the division had more than 10,000 officers for the first time in its history.
In 2013, mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel announced that she would hire an additional 2,000 LAPD officials – and planned to free up the money through waste reduction and “prioritization”.
Her opponent, the then city councilor Garcetti, rejected Greuel’s proposal and called it financially unrealistic. He won the race and has contributed to the decline in LAPD staffing over the past 18 months.
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