Acknowledging obstacles to his plan to increase police strength by greater use of reservists, Los Angeles Mayor-elect Richard Riordan said Thursday that he is considering deploying 400 to 500 more officers a day by paying them overtime.
"This would ultimately be cheaper and more efficient and more quick than the other plans," he said.
He estimated the cost at no more than $40 million a year and said it could increase the number of police on the streets by one-third.
Riordan said his transition advisers have begun identifying considerable waste at City Hall. "Believe me," the mayor-elect said in an interview with The Times, "we're going to find tens of millions of dollars we never dreamed were there--pockets of money (and) contracts let out on convoluted ways."
Riordan did not elaborate, but later his transition team leader, William Wardlaw, offered one example. He said transition officials found that the mayor's office has 30 automobiles available for staff members at taxpayers' expense. "Beginning July 1, there won't be 30 cars assigned to the mayor's office," Wardlaw said.
Looking refreshed after five days of fly-fishing, bicycle riding and ice skating in Sun Valley, Ida., Riordan made his only public appearance of the day before the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley. He told reporters afterward that he has forgiven the $2 million he loaned to his own campaign--leaving a total of $6 million of his own money that Riordan spent to get elected.
Riordan's alternative was to hold fund-raisers to pay himself back--which might have created an awkward impression.
"I didn't think of it in those terms," he said. "But . . . I think people will have more confidence in me if I just . . . get on with running the city . . . and not raising money."
He also disclosed that he plans to employ some corporate and academic leaders as high-level volunteers in the mayor's office "to help us get things going in the right direction." He declined to identify candidates.
He said his transition staff's study of the mayor's office shows a need for restructuring.
"Right now, the government in L.A. is structured in a way that I believe there are like 80 top people that report directly to the mayor. You've go to be able to delegate to strong people under you, because nobody can handle 80 people--not efficiently," he said.
Riordan's inaugural plans also began to take shape. A source said Riordan would have breakfast with an ecumenical religious group at Union Station, where he announced his candidacy in November.
He plans to walk to City Hall behind a marching band, be sworn in on the steps, hold a short reception and go to work. There are no plans, so far, for parties or balls. "Right now," the source said "Dick's idea is that it be simple."
In disclosing his latest plan to put more police on the streets quickly, Riordan referred to a Times article Wednesday that suggested that his idea of adding more reservists and retired police officers "is not going to work that well."
The article pointed up several obstacles, such as police union opposition to increased reliance on reservists and a presumed lack of enthusiasm among retirees to work the nights and weekends when they are needed most.
"When Plan A doesn't work, you go to Plan B," Riordan said. "When Plan B doesn't work you go to Plan Z. But you have to get more police on the streets."
Riordan said he has had in-depth discussions with Police Chief Willie L. Williams on alternatives, including transferring officers from desk jobs to the streets and paying more overtime.
Paying more overtime is simpler, Riordan said. But he was not specific about where the money would come from.
"I think we can get the money in a variety of ways such as ways that I mentioned during my campaign, for example from the airport, from putting rubbish collection, street maintenance out to competitive bid, by consolidating departments of the city," he said.
Riordan estimated the cost at $30 million to $40 million a year to pay overtime to 400 to 500 officers who are now forced to take compensatory time off because the department has no money to pay them overtime.
Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Dan Watson, who is in charge of personnel matters for the department, said "the figure we use is that we have 300 to 400 officers on any given day off because they're taking compensatory time."
Most officers sitting at home could be at work on patrol or as detectives, Watson said. But he said he could not verify Riordan's cost estimates or Riordan's statement that the number of police on the street would increase by around 30%.
The Police Department has shrunk from 8,200 officers in 1991 to about 7,700--a victim of the city's fiscal crisis. The Times calculated that in 1991 the department mustered only 381 officers on an average shift to handle radio calls. By last fall, the LAPD was able to put only 279 officers on radio calls on an average shift.
In other news, Wardlaw said Riordan advisers have begun seeking contributions to a $100,000 city fund that will finance the transition effort and part of the July 1 inaugural.
He said donations, in increments of $5,000 and perhaps $10,000, will be sought from Riordan's earlier campaign supporters and others willing to make donations. He acknowledged that these could include special interests doing business with the city.
Times staff writers James Rainey and Rich Connell contributed to this story.