Advertisement

LAPD officers would receive raises, higher starting pay under deal struck by Bass, union

Chief Michel Moore, left, and LAPD Capt. Christopher Zine, to his immediate right, conduct a uniform inspection.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Share

Mayor Karen Bass and the city’s negotiators have struck a deal to provide an extensive package of raises and bonuses to about 9,000 officers, part of her larger effort to rebuild the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The four-year contract, which cannot go into effect without a ratification vote from members of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, would hike the starting pay for new recruits by nearly 13%, while also providing four year-to-year increases of 3% to each officer’s base wage, said City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo, the high-level budget official who reports to Bass and the City Council.

The agreement also includes hikes in officers’ retention pay, to ensure they stay with the agency over the long term. And it provides a 5% boost in officers’ health insurance subsidy, Szabo said Tuesday.

Bass, who heads the city’s five-member bargaining committee, said the deal would support her goal of hiring more police, speeding up recruitment and improving retention rates among those who have already been hired to work at the LAPD.

“My number one job is to keep Angelenos safe,” she said in a statement. “Like many major cities across America, our police department is enduring a hiring and retention crisis so we are taking critical action.”

Advertisement

The agreement comes about three months after Bass promised to increase LAPD staffing, proposing a budget aimed at restoring the LAPD to 9,500 officers by the middle of next year.

Mayor Karen Bass said her proposed budget, which will be released Tuesday, will seek to restore the LAPD to 9,500 officers — an extremely tall order during a staff shortage.

April 17, 2023

The department has lost about 1,000 officers, or about 10% of sworn staffing, over the past four years. Figures posted last week on the LAPD’s website had the agency at 9,034 officers. Bass has repeatedly voiced fears that that number will soon fall below 9,000.

The union’s leadership sent out a bulletin Monday night touting the proposed salary agreement. Once increases in retention pay are included, the union’s members will receive wage increases of 6% this year, 4% in the contract’s second year, 5% in the third and 5% in the fourth, the union bulletin said.

Jerretta Sandoz, the union’s vice president, said in a separate statement that the agreement would “put the LAPD on the right path” toward retaining officers and supervisors.

“Our rank and file deserve these increases and improvements as we work toward restoring staffing after losing 1,000 officers,” said Sandoz, who had advised departing officers two months ago to find jobs in other departments that value their work.

LAPD officers are scheduled to vote next week on the contract, which would boost annual starting pay from about $74,000 — the amount provided the moment a cadet walks into the Police Academy — to about $86,000. The latter figure takes in not just the 13% hike in starting pay but the first 3% raise, Szabo said.

Advertisement

The department would also begin providing a retention bonus in an officer’s second year, to dissuade them from leaving for other agencies so soon after being hired, Szabo said.

Under the previous contract, retention bonuses did not kick in until an officer’s 10th year, he said.

Szabo said the quartet of proposed raises, planned between this year and 2027, would result in a 12% increase in officers’ base wage by 2027 — a figure that does not include retention pay and a wide array of other bonuses and incentives.

In Chicago, a majority of the city’s roughly 13,000 police officers secured a new contract in 2021 that gives them a 20% base salary increase over eight years.

And in New York City, local leaders reached a deal earlier this year with the city’s largest police union that gave rank-and-file officers a 28.5% wage increase over eight years, much of it retroactive to 2017.

Several council members — Eunisses Hernandez, Hugo Soto-Martínez, Tim McOsker, Nithya Raman and Katy Yaroslavsky — declined comment on Tuesday, with several saying they hadn’t yet reviewed the agreement’s deal points. Councilmember Traci Park, who represents part of the Westside, called the contract a “good step in the right direction,” saying she hopes it helps the LAPD make progress with recruitment and retention.

Advertisement

“The lack of presence of police officers is something that I hear about from constituents on a regular basis, and unless and until we bolster the ranks, that’s going to continue to be a problem,” she said.

Carlos Montes, a longtime activist in Boyle Heights, was much less enthusiastic, saying the agreement was announced at a time when many Angelenos want more social services, not police. Montes said L.A.’s political leaders should be putting their funds into programs that keep young people from turning to crime, such as libraries, park activities, youth programs and gang intervention workers.

“The LAPD gets a good salary, good benefits and a ton of overtime,” he said. “And where I live, whenever we really need them, they don’t show up.”

Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-L.A., spoke out against the agreement, saying it comes at a time when hotel workers, restaurant employees and others are fighting for a “livable wage.” Abdullah also said she rejects the idea that higher pay will help the city increase the number of police.

“Maybe people don’t want to [take jobs as] LAPD officers because they don’t want to join those ranks,” she said. “They don’t want to count themselves among one of the most deplorable jobs in the entire city.”

City Controller Kenneth Mejia voiced his own doubts, saying the public needs information on the long-term cost of the contract, including the impact on the city’s pension obligations and other public services, well before the City Council casts a vote on the deal.

Advertisement

“For years, generous police union contracts have strained the city’s budget, crowding out spending on other city priorities,” Mejia said in a statement. “Yet recruitment continues to lag, clearly indicating that money is not the main problem.”

The proposed contract is only part of the effort to rebuild LAPD ranks. The mayor’s budget, approved in May, called for the recruitment of 780 officers and the hiring of up to 200 retirees — a goal viewed by many at City Hall as extremely difficult to achieve.

Since then, LAPD staffing has continued to shrink.

Bass had been hoping to fill 13 Police Academy classes with 60 recruits during the current budget year. Instead, the last two classes have had less than half that amount — with 24 recruits in late June and 26 last week.

If LAPD officers ratify the contract, it will then head to the City Council for a final vote. That the agreement has come together so seamlessly is somewhat remarkable, given the state of relations between the union and Bass a year earlier.

Last year, during the election campaign, a political action committee sponsored by the Police Protective League spent more than $3.4 million opposing Bass while supporting the candidacy of her opponent, real estate developer Rick Caruso, according to Ethics Commission records. Those efforts included television ads that attempted to tie Bass to the federal corruption case facing one of her allies, former Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.

A lawyer for Bass said the attack ad from the police officers’ union contains “false, misleading and defamatory” information about the candidate’s voting record.

May 10, 2022

Advertisement

Bass called those ads “defamatory.” After Caruso trailed Bass significantly in the June 2022 primary election, the union did not wage a similar effort during the runoff. Bass easily defeated Caruso in November.

The push to expand the LAPD comes at a moment of big decreases in crime. Homicides were down 19% citywide as of July 22, when compared with the same point in time last year, according to department figures. Violent crime was down more than 9% citywide.

Some pockets of the city are still struggling. The LAPD’s Rampart Division, which includes such neighborhoods as Westlake and Historic Filipinotown, has reported 15 homicides so far this year, compared with eight during the same period in 2022. Aggravated assaults in Rampart are up nearly 6%, according to the department.

In the west San Fernando Valley, the LAPD has reported a 13% increase in burglaries in its West Valley Division, which includes Encino, Tarzana and Reseda, and a 23% jump in burglaries in its Devonshire Division, which includes Northridge and Chatsworth.

The last time the LAPD dipped below 9,000 officers was during first year of the administration of Mayor James Hahn, who took office in July 2001. That fiscal year, the department averaged 8,905 officers, according to figures provided by the LAPD.

Months after he took office, Hahn proposed that officers be permitted to work a “3-12” schedule — three consecutive 12-hour days, followed by several days off — saying such a change would improve morale and reduce attrition. That proposal was eventually adopted by his appointees on the Board of Police Commissioners, over the objections of then-Police Chief Bernard C. Parks.

Advertisement

Parks eventually won a seat on the City Council and continued to push for a repeal of the compressed work week. Those efforts were not successful.

Advertisement