L.A. police chief says city officials are ‘seriously contemplating’ laying off police officers

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday that city officials are “seriously contemplating” layoffs of police officers as part of the effort to close a projected budget deficit expected to reach or exceed $600 million.

Moore made his remarks just two days before the city’s budget analysts are expected to issue a report on the city’s financial crisis and the steps needed to address it. Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the City Council will begin examining those proposals — and discussing the size of the city workforce — this month, he said.

As they look for solutions, city leaders are considering layoffs for police officers and civilians at the LAPD, the chief said.

“We have already experienced … a reduction in our workforce, between sworn and civilian, in excess of 500 personnel,” Moore said during a video Q&A with members of the news media. “To suffer further losses would be devastating to the safety of the city. So I think everything’s on the table.”

The city’s financial crisis, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been steadily growing for months, with hotel taxes, parking fines and other forms of revenue falling short of amounts in previous years.

In July, the council cut $150 million from the LAPD budget, taking staffing down to 9,757 officers by June, the lowest level since 2008.

Asked about Moore’s remarks, Garcetti acknowledged that L.A. and its residents are experiencing a “brutal” year economically.

He said city leaders must be ready to make difficult decisions, particularly if the federal government fails to provide relief to cities and states hit hard by the pandemic.

“It is my hope we will do everything we can to avoid layoffs,” Garcetti said. “So, I know it’s kind of sexy to lead with the worst. But I hope that’s at the very bottom of our list.”

Layoffs frequently hit the city’s most vulnerable employees — who are more likely to be younger people of color, Garcetti said. Job cuts would also hurt city services for years, he added.

Moore is not the first city official to raise the prospect of LAPD layoffs in recent days.

Last week, in an interview with The Times, Councilman Paul Krekorian said the city is looking at job cuts for police officers and firefighters.

“I don’t see a way to avoid layoffs of city employees,” said Krekorian, who heads the council’s powerful Budget and Finance Committee. “And I do not think it would make sense to exempt any category of employees in doing that.”

Krekorian added that if the city received a federal aid package, or concessions from its employee unions, those layoffs could be avoided.

Budget officials are projecting a revenue gap of around $600 million, a figure that represents about 9% of the city’s general fund, which pays for such basic services as police officers and firefighters.

City negotiators sent a letter last month to the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file officers, asking its leaders to return to the bargaining table to discuss the financial crisis.

The union declined, saying city leaders should look elsewhere for cuts.

League members are on track to receive a 3.25% pay increase in January. Civilian city workers are scheduled to receive a 2% increase that same month, followed by another 2% raise in June.

Garcetti asked city department heads to begin working on a “potential layoff scenario” in September. City leaders are planning to impose furloughs — representing a 10% pay cut — on civilian workers next month.

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