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Council committees recommend LAPD hiring freeze

Members of the budget and public safety panels propose closing the Police Academy from November to January to see if the city's financial situation improves. The mayor vows to veto any such plan.

October 06, 2009|David Zahniser and Phil Willon

Two committees of the Los Angeles City Council recommended Monday that the city stop hiring police officers starting next month and wait until January to see if the budget picture has improved enough to resume recruitment.

The Budget and Finance and Public Safety committees agreed to discontinue a new recruit class in November as part of the effort to eliminate a $405-million budget shortfall. The committees also voted to halt LAPD recruiting efforts.

The move could slow Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's effort to add 1,000 officers to the police force.

The city's financial woes have already forced him to stop hiring, adding only enough officers to replace those who quit.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who serves on the budget panel, said he couldn't support more hiring as long as police furloughs remain a possibility.

He also said some officials have become fixated on reaching 10,000 officers and suggested they could instead deploy the existing force more effectively.

Although the mayor wants to reach a staffing level of 10,181 -- the number he says will result from 1,000 new hires -- the council has been debating whether to remain at 10,000 amid a financial crisis.

The council's two most vigorous budget hawks -- Bernard Parks, a former LAPD chief, and Greig Smith -- have repeatedly opposed more police hiring because of the city's precarious finances but have been unable to persuade their colleagues to follow their lead. Over the last four years, the mayor has always found the votes to keep hiring.

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david.zahniser@latimes.com

phil.willon@latimes.com

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