The latest budget report released today by Los Angeles' city administrative officer recommends that the city lay off nearly 1,900 employees amid budget concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic -- with most staff cuts slated for the police department.
CAO Richard Llewellyn's report states that most proposed layoffs would have a negative effect on the city, but it would take the heaviest toll on the LAPD. The report identified 951 police officers and 728 civilian positions from the Los Angeles Police Department that could be cut.
That would leave the LAPD with the lowest numbers of officers since the mid-1990 -- if the City Council adopts layoffs as recommended, reports the L.A. Times.
"This office has projected that General Fund revenues are likely to fall short of the 2020-21 budget by $600 million, and we believe this can get worse," the second quarter financial report reads. "Without knowing the trajectory or end point of the pandemic itself, it is still too difficult to determine the full extent of our revenue shortfall. However, every revenue source has been impacted, and revenues tied to tourism, services, parking and retail are at risk of further decline."
The report also recommends layoffs affecting 143 positions in the City Attorney's Office, 45 positions in the Animal Services Department and 27 positions in the Bureau of Engineering.
"It's appalling that city officials and politicians are more interested in fattening their political slush funds by defunding the police department through laying off nearly 1,000 officers," Craig Lally, the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, told City News Service.
"What makes it all the more galling is they are doing this during the shooting and homicide epidemic occurring in Los Angeles," he said. "The LAPD has been cut by $150 million to spare civilian layoffs and create huge reserves, and this latest proposal will further victimize Black and Hispanic residents who make up 70% of L.A.'s violent crime victims. It's disgusting."
Calls by City News Service to the CAO's office were not immediately returned.
The CAO said in prior budget reports that the city could lose as much as $400 to $600 million in general fund revenue by the end of this fiscal year. The latest report says the losses could be as high as $675 million by June 30 when the fiscal year ends.
According to the report, the reduction of the LAPD officers and personnel would save Los Angeles about $51 million.
Over the summer, organizations such as Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, with its proposed People's Budget, demanded reductions to bring the LAPD's share of the city's general fund expenditures to 1.64% from the current 30%.
The LAPD operating budget is about $1.8 billion and $3 billion overall, including pensions and other funds. Earlier this year, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a $150 million reduction to the LAPD budget.
Garcetti said Wednesday he hopes laying off city employees, including LAPD personnel, will be a last-resort measure, but the city is prepared to do so amid financial struggles due to the health crisis.
"I hope that (layoffs are) at the very bottom of the list, and our city administrative officer has asked us ... all of our departments to say how will we close this worst-case scenario if there is no help," Garcetti said. "The reason why I want layoffs to be the very last thing is it hits our most vulnerable employees and key services."
The City Council has been mulling ways to reduce potential layoffs or furloughs in the last few months, but that was before the recent spike of COVID-19 cases.
Garcetti said during Wednesday's COVID-19 update that Los Angeles is still pleading for federal assistance to help cities recuperate from the economic effects of the pandemic.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told reporters Wednesday: "We have already experienced ... a reduction in our workforce, between sworn and civilian, in excess of 500 personnel. To suffer further losses would be devastating to the safety of the city."