The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is struggling to fill its ranks as recruitment fails to keep up with projections, shrinking to levels not seen since the 1990s.
Though newly elected Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has increased the budget for the LAPD, following cuts that came as a result of the Defund the Police movement, the city’s police force has fallen below 9,000 officers, NBC News reported Thursday night. Bass’s goal is 9,500 officers.
As of July 30, the LAPD force was comprised of only 8,967 officers, with an additional 29 waiting in the wings as graduates from the police academy. The LAPD fell short of its goal; Chief Michel Moore admitted to the Board of Commissioners that their effort was to hire 60 new recruits every four weeks, the outlet stated.
Along with the lack of recruits, seasoned officers have been leaving the LAPD at “alarming rates” for the past few years, compounding the problem. (RELATED: Blue City Struggles With Police Officer Recruitment After Droves Of Retirements: REPORT)
“In the last 3 years, this organization has lost more than 600 personnel to retirement and we didn’t hire new academy recruits to replace them. Today, we’re losing more than 50 per month to retirement and we need to hire 60 in order to meet that attrition and begin to rebuild and we’re simply not making that mark,” Moore told Fox 11 News in August 2022.
The number of officers employed by the LAPD has dropped below 9,000, a staffing level unseen since the 1990s. https://t.co/DcwEXRZmqi
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 8, 2023
Current and former LAPD officers and personnel have pointed to LAPD’s recruiting process as a key part of the problem, stating that in the wake of the George Floyd and “Defund the Police” protests things began to change to the detriment of the force.
“We were given direction to focus more on diversity candidates, which we always have; regardless of the candidate, the good ones always float to the top,” James Williams, who supervised LAPD Police Background Investigations for 20 years, told Fox 11 in June. Williams alleged that if the top candidates weren’t from a specific minority group, however, they were passed over.
“I myself am a minority, and I completely believe in diversity in the department because that’s what makes Los Angeles a great city, but we need to hire good, qualified candidates that can do the job,” one unnamed source told the outlet. While another alleged that “a lot of the people” currently being hired by the LAPD “should not be police officers.”
Moore denied the allegations that recruiters have been told to focus on specific minority candidates even if they aren’t qualified.
“We do not hire a person on the basis of their race or their gender, but at the same time, we are pursuing qualified applicants that are representative of the diversity of the city; that is fair, that is what I think the public wants and expects,” he stated, according to the outlet.
This week, LAPD officers are voting on whether to adopt a four-year employment contract that would provide raises of nearly 20% for most officers and a higher starting salary for recruits, NBC News reported. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents most officers, expressed its hope that the proposed pay increases would help attract more recruits.