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Panel Backs Chick’s Plan to Add 50 to Ranks of LAPD : Law enforcement: Department would tap reservists, former officers and staff of other agencies. Committee also advises end to hiring freeze.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A plan to quickly add 50 officers to the Los Angeles Police Department by hiring reservists and former officers as well as raiding the ranks of other law-enforcement agencies won preliminary approval Monday from a council committee.

By a 2-0 vote, the Public Safety Committee also recommended lifting a two-year freeze on hiring new officers. LAPD executives said the freeze has inhibited Chief Willie Williams’ management decisions and slowed promotions and the filling of vacancies.

Lifting the freeze would cost no additional money, Councilman Marvin Braude noted. The department is budgeted for 7,900 officers but now has about 300 vacancies.

Both items still need full City Council approval.

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The proposal for adding 50 officers, made by City Councilwoman Laura Chick, was praised by Braude, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, and LAPD brass. A city personnel office executive testified that the measure would not undermine the LAPD’s affirmative-action hiring plan, as some had feared.

Chick’s plan would authorize the LAPD to hire up to 50 new officers from among the ranks of LAPD officers who have quit the department within the past three years, reservists with at least 2,000 hours of police experience or other law-enforcement agencies.

Chick said her plan would make it possible to hire fully trained new officers quickly and cheaply. It now costs about $240,000 to put a recruit through the 18 months of Police Academy training and probationary supervision needed to become a full-fledged officer.

Assistant General Manager Phil Hennings of the Personnel Department said officers hired through that process would be disproportionately white males, which would run counter to the department’s court-ordered effort to become more ethnically diverse and hire more women.

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But the impact of the process could be offset by recruiting more females and minorities for academy training.

In another action intended to bolster the department’s staff, the committee proposed lifting the hiring freeze and ban on promotions. “The freeze has diminished the chief’s management flexibility and effectiveness,” Braude said.

The department has been able to circumvent the freeze by obtaining City Council approval for exemptions. But Cmdr. Dan Watson, head of personnel for the department, said it can take two to three months to get the exemptions.

Deputy Chief Lawrence Fetters, head of the department’s Human Resources Bureau, said the freeze has been a major hindrance. “There’ve been a number of critical vacancies that we’ve not been able to fill” because of it, Fetters told the committee. Moreover, routine promotions have had to go to the full council for approval.


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