In an effort to bridge an anticipated $675 million budget shortfall in this year’s budget, Los Angeles city officials are contemplating cost-cutting measures that may lead to many layoffs, including the elimination of more than 1,600 filled positions in the Los Angeles Police Department.
In the latest quarter financial report released Friday, Dec. 4, the city’s top budget advisers said that in order to achieve an across-the-board 3% budget reduction, layoffs are needed. Under a scenario now being explored by officials, 1,894 filled positions would be eliminated to save about $45 million.
The bulk of those eliminated positions would be within the L.A. Police Department, with officials recommending a total of 951 among the sworn workforce — which include police officers — and 728 among the civilian employees for a total of 1,679 filled positions cut, in order to meet the 3% cost cutting goal.
The report said that this would bring the sworn police force down to 8,800, which matches 2002 levels.
The cuts to sworn positions could lead to the closing of police stations, the report said, as well as specialized patrols for human trafficking, cannabis enforcement, A Bridge Home shelters, alcohol sales and traffic patrols.
The elimination of civilian positions in the LAPD would affect crime-scene processing, DNA analyses, fleet maintenance and services, and public records request processing, and may lead to the closure of records units, the report said.
The “budget balancing plan” also includes using up $259 million from reserve accounts to cover the shortfall. This includes clearing out the entirety of some of the reserve accounts.
The city’s budget reserves had been built up over several years, ever since the last major economic downturn more than a decade ago. City officials said that it has taken only a few months for the economic effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic to potentially clean out most of those reserves.
Alex Comisar, an aide to Mayor Eric Garcetti, said that layoffs are a “last resort,” and the mayor wants to try to avoid them.
“But without assistance from Washington and solutions from our employees, deep and harmful cuts are inevitable,” he said. “The mayor is working hard to find cost savings wherever we can, and bring L.A.’s economy back as quickly as possible.”
Budget officials described the scenario as an “exercise” in the report. Labor negotiations are expected to be ongoing. City officials have asked the police officers’ union to the bargaining table, but that labor organization had rebuffed the request.
The financial status report can be viewed on the city’s website here. The City Council will be discussing the report in a special budget meeting on Monday.