How do we counteract LBPD’s bloated budget and over-time scam?
We have seen a scandalous increase in over-time pay for our Police Department as well as the Fire Department. In the past we did not have this problem, so what if anything has changed?
I did a financial analysis of this situation, and the answer becomes evident.
We downsized our police department in 2008 since we were experiencing a recession due to the Savings and Loan Scandal. With reduced City Budgets, every department got a hit.
Initially, that worked, but there were unintended consequences as time went by. The other departments were refunded in the good times and even expanded their staff.
The police department did not. So one has to wonder why?
The short answer is, they didn’t want to. Again, Why?
We are now short approximately 180 officers. We have a contingent of a little over 800 officers.
When we are short on police officers, then the “old guard” gets to ride along with the rookies during the day and afternoon shifts and get paid overtime. If we had a full contingent of officers, that overtime would not be allowed since we would have full command.
The City and citizens are the ones who are burdened by this overtime scam. We made an agreement with the Police Officers Association that these “old guard” officers would get 90% of their last two year’s pay in retirement pension, plus medical benefits. That is a cushy retirement for 25 years on the job.
Knowing that their term in the department will soon end, officers do overtime in order to pad their retirement cushion. Overtime can bring a $170.000.00 paycheck up to $402,416.00 just due to overtime, as it did in 2018 with Batallion Chief Jeffery Ohs. That is a lot of cash for a nice retirement, and since one only has to work for 25 years, there is time for another job, with more pension and retirement benefits. This happens all too frequently.
My fiscally responsible suggestion is to mandate a full contingent of officers. Hire the 180 officers asap. That means we have to hold more than 1 academy per year (which is what we are doing this year).
The other added problem to lack of officers is the impact upon discipline. If you don’t have enough staff to do the job at hand, then those who are not doing well, those with complaints on their records, and those who are downright bad cops, are not removed due to lack of overall officer to city coverage.
If we want to reform the LBPD, then let’s start with getting a full cadre of officers. No excuses for misconduct or out of control costs. That immediately reduces the budget for the Police Department which is now approximately 48% of the entire City budget.
There is a call on the streets to defund the police. I think instead we need to reimagine the police department. If we reduce the cost by slashing over-time, then we have tremendous cost savings. Also, we have to look at the incredible expansion of the management of the LBPD. We have more than doubled upper management staff since 2008. We got along fine during the recession and crime spree of the 1990s with less management staff. Also, it is clear that current staffing is not working as the “cause of all our problems from Chief Luna is communication breakdown”. With fewer people between the top decision-makers and the rank and file, we have a streamlined program wherein communication is preserved and immediate responsibility to evident.
I believe we need to Defund a percentage of the Police Department just as a wake-up call, and to do practical adjustments. If we remove 30% of their budget, then we can use those funds to hire mental health workers, hire social workers, and keep the multi-service center for the Homeless open 24/7 instead of the current 9 to 5 Monday through Friday waste of time. We can have transport between downtown and the service center, as the majority of our homeless are along the coast and in the Downtown sector.
We could make a triage center for the homeless downtown, where folks might actually get services. No homeless person is going to walk all the way up to Anaheim street, walk across the LA River and scurry around trying to find our MSC on 12th Street. That is a dream at best.
If you want to solve something, you have to make solutions that are practical.
There is an old expression. ‘Chaos expands to the space available. “
Money will always be “needed” as long as we have it. Restrict the budget, and somehow people make due and do just as good a job. This myth that our Police Department needs our money and our taxes over and over again is false. We have passed three taxes on the basis that we would see a full contingency of Police. Since that has not happened, we must look at other answers. They simply didn’t want to provide more officers so they could keep up the scam that was going on.
I am not saying all we have are bad cops. I am saying we must manage our resources, and we must ferret out those officers who are costing us so much (30.3 Million in lawsuit settlements in the last 5 years). Clearly, the math shows us what to do.