Last week the Los Angeles City Council approved a new $3.6 billion contract for the LAPD.
The four-year package will raise salaries, bonuses and entitlements for police officers, which will account for approximately $1 billion of the new contract amount. The deal increases officer pay by 20% over the next four years according to city administrative officer Matt Szabo.
The approval is a victory for Mayor Karen Bass, who had argued in favor of the contract.
Bass and Councilman Bob Blumenfield were the strongest proponents of the new contract, saying that other California cities were enticing recruits and new officers with higher salaries and bonuses.
Blumenfield told Valley News Group, “Fewer officers means first response resources being spread too thin. Moving officers from critical detective work to patrol, and relying too much on overtime, is not sustainable. For the first time in 20 years we are dipping under 9,000 officers and this is directly corresponding with unacceptable wait times for non-emergency service calls and many stations have limited desk hours. And, when we compare to other cities like Chicago, they have a little less than half the population of Los Angeles and yet they have more sworn officers.
Additional officers will make the LAPD less reliant on overtime pay. It will also ensure that officers do not depart for other law enforcement agencies soon after finishing the Police Academy.”
The council vote was 12 to 3. Locally Blumenfield and Councilman John Lee voted in favor of the new contract, with Lee saying, “This new contract represents our city’s commitment to public safety and support for the Los Angeles Police Department. This package will help significantly bolster the department’s ability to recruit capable and qualified candidates while also helping with the retention of officers who are already serving on the force.”
Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Hugo Soto-Martinez and Eunisses Hernandez voted against the deal, arguing it would take too much money away from other city services, including mental health, clinicians, homeless outreach workers and other city needs.
Raman explained her vote to Valley News Group, saying, “I want to be very clear that a shortage of public safety responders is a real problem. We desperately need LA to be a city where, whenever you call for help, someone shows up – and it’s the right person to respond to your issue. That is how we build a sense of trust and safety in the city and within communities.
However, based on the widespread shortage of law enforcement officers at departments across the country, some with much larger shortages than LAPD’s despite higher starting pay, I did not have confidence that the pay increase outlined in the contract would have a substantial impact on staffing.
To increase the availability and efficiency of LA’s police to respond to violent and serious crime, I support deep investments in alternative response for issues not requiring law enforcement experience, such as non-criminal calls related to homelessness and basic traffic enforcement. Prioritizing police toward criminal response and investigation would help make sure the right person shows up promptly when Angelenos call for help, and make us more resilient to larger economic and cultural trends that have impacted hiring nationwide.”
Blumenfield agreed that alternative responses could be explored, but said that approving the contract was crucial – “I believe that all of my colleagues voted their conscience and believed that they were acting responsibly and in the best interest of the City of Los Angeles – I certainly was.
A rejection of the contract by the Council would have likely have led to impasse and chaos. The contract itself makes LAPD more competitive with neighboring police departments, will help prevent an over-reliance on expensive overtime, will help us retain the current officers who have been leaving at an alarming rate, and will help us recruit and retain new officers that receive expensive training. The contract also paves the way for an expansion of alternative interventions. Voting for the contract was not only a responsible action, it was a smart vote that will benefit the City of Los Angeles.”