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Buscaino wants 1,300 more cops — and plans to pay for them using existing city funds

City Councilman Joe Buscaino, shown in June, has proposed boosting the LAPD ranks to 11,000 officers if he is elected mayor.
(Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said Thursday he would seek a major expansion of the Police Department if elected mayor, taking the LAPD up to 11,000 officers by 2027.

Buscaino, one of several candidates running to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti in next year’s election, said additional officers are needed at a time when homicides and other crimes are increasing. The LAPD is budgeted for about 9,700 officers this year, but has been nearly 200 below that figure in recent weeks.

Michael Trujillo, a Buscaino campaign strategist, said the hiring plan would be accomplished not by seeking higher taxes or fees, but by setting priorities within the existing city budget. He would not say what programs, if any, would need to be cut to accomplish such a significant staffing increase.

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“We believe we can chip away at it each year until we reach [11,000] in the fifth year,” Trujillo said.

The Los Angeles Police Commission approved a proposed $213-million budget increase for the LAPD next year. The spending plan is a 12% increase over this year.

Buscaino, a former police officer, is running in a year when the L.A. is likely to have more homicides than at any point since 2006. The number of shooting victims is up more than 50% compared to two years ago, the last full year without COVID-19, according to figures posted on the LAPD’s website.

How much Buscaino’s campaign promise will resonate is not certain. Activists have argued over the past two years that the LAPD should receive fewer dollars, not more, with the proceeds diverted to housing and social programs. On Thursday, LAPD officers killed two people — one of them a 14-year-old girl — during a shooting at a Burlington store in North Hollywood.

The council voted in July 2020 to reduce the number of officers at the LAPD, following widespread protests over police abuse after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At the time, Buscaino cast one of two dissenting votes.

By the time that budget year ended, sworn staffing had fallen below 9,400. By then, council members had voted to begin rebuilding staffing, bringing the force up to 9,700.

City Atty. Mike Feuer, who is also running for mayor, promised earlier this year to restore the LAPD to more than 10,000 officers. But he has also argued that, to make communities safer, the city must invest more money in mental health counselors, social workers, neighborhood cleanups and gun prevention programs.

“Buscaino’s proposal is a slogan. It’s not a plan,” he said “The right question, I might suggest, is what are the ingredients that will make L.A. safer? Is it a number with nothing beneath it, or is it all these comprehensive strategies?”

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who is also running for mayor, declined through a spokeswoman to weigh in on Buscaino’s proposal. Another candidate, business leader Jessica Lall, said she wants to take stock of the LAPD’s duties before announcing how many officers the agency should have.

During the fiscal year ending June 30, LAPD officers worked more than 680,000 overtime hours for which they have not been paid. The city now owes $47.3 million.

“L.A. needs a strong public safety policy first, not simply a target number with no plan behind it,” said Lall, who heads the downtown-based Central City Assn.

Mel Wilson, a San Fernando Valley businessman also seeking to replace Garcetti, said he supports the idea of adding more than 1,000 additional officers — but also wants to see a patrol plan.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, let’s go for 11,000 officers,’ ” he said. “But you need to really say, ‘Well, how are those officers deployed?’ ”

Trujillo said his boss is assuming that each additional officer would cost the city $150,000, including healthcare and pension costs. Buscaino also could tap state and federal funds to help pay for the initiative, he said.

Police hiring has been an issue in every competitive mayoral contest in L.A. over the past 20 years.

James Hahn was elected in 2001 after promising to add 1,000 officers. But four years later, his opponent, Antonio Villariagosa, blasted Hahn for failing to reach that goal.

Villaraigosa defeated Hahn in 2005, vowing to succeed at the LAPD where his predecessor had not. By the time he left office, Villaraigosa had added about 800 officers, ensuring the department had more than 10,000 officers for the first time in its history.

In 2013, mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel announced that she wanted to add another 2,000 LAPD officers — and planned to free up the money by cutting waste and “setting priorities.”

Her opponent, then-Councilman Garcetti, panned Greuel’s proposal, calling it financially unrealistic. He won the race and, over the past 18 months, has presided over the decline in LAPD staffing.


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