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California Briefing / Los Angeles

City wants 450 officers, gets funding for just 50

July 29, 2009|Maeve Reston and Joel Rubin

While crafting their budget earlier this year, Los Angeles city officials requested federal stimulus money to hire up to 450 new officers. But instead the city was awarded what City Council President Eric Garcetti called "a drop in the bucket" from the COPS Hiring Recovery Program -- a $16.3-million allotment that will allow L.A. to hire and retain just 50 officers for three years. He and other city officials questioned Tuesday whether the grant formula discriminated against big cities.

Stating that America's large cities have a disproportionate amount of its crime, Garcetti said Los Angeles is "used to receiving a lot less because of who we are and because of our size, but it is disappointing to see this at a time when we are making so much progress on public safety."

New York City received no new money for new cops, while smaller cities such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Nashville and San Antonio received the full funding for 50 officers. The $1-billion grant program was flooded by some $8.3 billion in grant applications, leading federal officials to set two caps: no more than 50 officers per city or no more than 5% of the existing force.

Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger noted that the city's budget agreement will allow the department to hire new officers to offset attrition: "We can't cry over a gift we didn't receive. We would have liked to get more than 50, but 50 is better than nothing."

-- Maeve Reston and Joel Rubin

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