LAPD Officers Refuse to Discuss Potential Pay Cuts Because of Pandemic

Police union is first to respond to City’s call to reopen contracts and discuss ways to cut millions from the budget

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The union that represents most LAPD officers says it will not entertain discussions of pay cuts as the city of LA faces a budget crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Police Protective League is unanimous in its belief that its members deserve every penny of compensation that our contract prescribes. Period,” league president Craig Lally wrote to the city’s head labor negotiator.

He said that the police department has already been subject to a $150 million “defunding” cut and the city should look to other agencies for cost savings.

“It was a political stunt with significant negative impacts,” Lally said. “This cut is having a catastrophic impact on our ability to patrol our streets and investigate crimes, specifically in our sexual assault unit, robbery and homicide, and other critical units.”

Most City employees were set to receive pay raises that had been negotiated and approved before the pandemic and its associated financial impact, including increases of nearly 10% and expanded healthcare benefits for many administrative employees.

LAPD officers are receiving a 4.8% raise along with new bonuses for educational achievements, and they will receive another raise in 2022, according to the city.

The LA City firefighters’ union and the coalition of unions that represent most non-public safety employees did not immediately share their responses to the city or comment on the budget trouble.

In a letter sent Nov. 10, the city asked the unions to consider how they could help manage the budget shortfall.

“Absent increased or new sources of funds, the city will likely need to resort to aggressive cost and service reductions,” Dana Brown, LA’s chief employee relations officer, wrote in letters sent to employee unions Nov. 10.

“Our revised year-end shortfall stands at $400 million to $600 million,” she said. “The magnitude of this revised year-end revenue gap cannot be understated.”

"Pandemic-driven revenue loss has put the City in dire financial straits," said Alex Comisar, a spokesman for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

"Now is a critical time to be at the table with all employee representatives to discuss cost-cutting options," he told the I-Team Monday.

A senior LA City Hall staffer, who did not want to be identified as they were not authorized to publicly discuss the negotiations, told NBC4’s I-Team that the budget situation was, “catastrophic,” and the city is considering more drastic measures than those used to resolve revenue shortfalls during the 2007 and 2008 recession.

Layoffs are being considered across all city departments, and decisions, “have to happen sooner,” perhaps by year’s end, the official said, in order for the savings from potential job cuts to affect the current fiscal year, which ends in June. 

The police union letter suggests the city use some or all of its CARES Act emergency funding from the federal government to pay the salaries and benefits of police officers and firefighters. 

Much of that money, nearly $750 million, has been earmarked for relief programs for renters and businesses, though some of it could end up backstopping employee salaries, according to the city.

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