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LAPD's recruiting woes laid bare: Only 31 officers per class in last 10 classes, analysis shows

Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department has graduated an average of 31 recruits in its past 10 academy classes, a Los Angeles Times review shows, about half the number needed to keep pace with Mayor Karen Bass’ ambitious plan to reach 9,500 officers.

The smaller-than-hoped-for classes — coupled with the number of experienced officers who are retiring or leaving for other jobs — have fueled speculation around City Hall and LAPD headquarters about whether Bass will reevaluate the department’s staffing needs in her new budget proposal, due Monday.

City officials have said they need to hire about 60 new officers a month to overcome the force’s attrition rate.

The mayor gave no timetable for her police hiring plan. But the statistics indicate that increasing the size of the force from its current 8,832 sworn officers to 9,500 is unlikely to happen soon.

Given the city’s steadily worsening financial picture, some leaders and progressive activists argue that it makes little sense to keep funding the department for staff it may not be able to hire.

A Times analysis of graduation class data and news releases posted to the department’s website found that 309 recruits graduated from the LAPD academy since July 1. In the same span, the department lost 552 officers to retirement, dismissal or resignation — with another 113 expected to leave by June 30, the end of the budget year, according to a spokeswoman.


While the figures don’t reflect every recent hire or departure, taken together they give a rough idea of the depths of the department’s staffing woes.

Interim Chief Dominic Choi acknowledged those struggles in an interview this week with NBC Nightly News, saying larger workloads have contributed to low officer morale and forced residents to wait longer for police services. Staffing shortages have also led to more officers working overtime in L.A. and other cities, further stretching budgets.

That “slippage” in response times, Choi said, was particularly evident for non-emergency calls, which have climbed from “about 20 minutes upward to 40 minutes, up to an hour.”

“I think if we had about 12,000, we would be well-staffed,” Choi said, echoing a number that former Chief William J. Bratton cited in 2002 as the minimum the department needs to properly patrol the city.


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