Garcetti wanted 9,735 cops. But L.A. won’t be able to hit that target

Los Angeles City Hall
The Los Angeles City Council voted for a budget that, while increasing spending at the Police Department, also reduces Mayor Eric Garcetti’s goal for police staffing.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles City Council scaled back Mayor Eric Garcetti’s spending plan for the Police Department on Wednesday, after receiving a report that said his target for police hiring cannot be achieved.

Garcetti proposed a citywide budget last month that called for the recruitment of 780 officers — a number that, once departures are factored in, would increase LAPD staffing to 9,735 officers. Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso, who advises the council, warned in a recent memo that the LAPD would not reach that number, since staffing at the department has continued to decline.

Council members reworked the mayor’s budget proposal, ensuring that — even in the most aggressive recruiting scenario — the city would have no more than 9,615 officers by June 2023. And Tso’s budget memo said a more realistic outcome, given the city’s ongoing labor shortage, is that the department would find itself with fewer than 9,500 officers by that date.

The council made the changes as part of their approval of a city budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.


The proposal for more LAPD funding could easily become an issue in the June 7 primary election, which features several candidates who want to rein in law enforcement costs.

April 20, 2022

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who heads the council’s budget committee, said the $11.8-billion spending plan would begin to restore city services cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget, he said, will increase fire department staffing and double the number of teams assigned to respond to illegal dumping. It would also provide more than $1 billion to address homelessness, Krekorian said.

The budget was approved 14-1, with Councilman Mike Bonin casting the lone dissenting vote.

Bonin said that two years after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the council still has not made the pivot to “reimagining” public safety, putting a greater emphasis on prevention and community care.

“The narrative is so much ‘crime, police, crime police,’ that for me, I want to vote in a way that says the narrative isn’t right,” he said.

Krekorian disagreed, saying the city has been taking concrete steps to change policing, by requiring additional training of officers, adding mental health teams and studying models of unarmed response.


“When you’re talking about fundamental changes, structural changes, some things take time,” Krekorian said, “especially if you care about getting it right, and not just creating slogans.”

Tso said the council’s spending plan will boost the LAPD’s operating budget by about $115 million, an increase of 6.5%. Garcetti had originally proposed an 8.5% increase.

Part of that reduction was accomplished by revising projected staffing numbers. When he proposed his spending plan, Garcetti’s team expected the LAPD would have 9,470 officers on July 1. Officials are now projecting 9,350.

Budget officials did not immediately have figures for the overall police budget, which includes pensions, and historically has topped $3 billion.

Wednesday’s vote comes at a time when LAPD staffing is an issue in the June 7 election. Real estate developer Rick Caruso and businessman Mel Wilson have called for the LAPD to have 11,000 officers, while Rep. Karen Bass and Councilman Kevin de León have argued in favor of 9,700.

Activist Gina Viola has called for abolishing the LAPD, saying staffing should be reduced over time.

Garcetti did not take issue with the council’s changes.

“Mayor Garcetti supports the council’s revised budget, which aligns with his vision to allocate more public safety resources toward increased patrol hours and alternatives to traditional policing models that rely on unarmed response, build long-lasting relationships with communities, and help the department operate more efficiently,” said spokesman Harrison Wollman in an email.

Garcetti had proposed the hiring of 780 officers during the 2022-23 fiscal year. In her memo, Tso said the LAPD managed to hire that many officers just once in the past 15 years. She described 625 as a more realistic goal, given the city’s hiring difficulties.

If the LAPD succeeds in reaching the more aggressive hiring goal, the council would have the ability to free up additional funds for the department. Meanwhile, some argued against additional LAPD spending.

Annie Shaw, an organizer with the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, urged the council to acquire Hillside Villa, an apartment building in Chinatown where dozens of tenants have been threatened with huge rent hikes.

“We do not need any more policing, and we certainly do not need any more money for the police,” she said,

Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents Chinatown, said council members are still moving ahead with plans for purchasing Hillside Villa — and will review a proposal next week.

While some pressed the council to cut the LAPD, others in the audience said more patrols are needed, especially in downtown.

“We used to feel safe,” said Christine Smith, who has lived in downtown since 1998, “but not anymore.”

Times staff writers Kevin Rector and Dakota Smith contributed to this report.