Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said Thursday that extra money earmarked for new computers and digital technology in Mayor Eric Garcetti's proposed budget will result in a significant boost to the percentage of time officers spend in the field.
Garcetti's proposed 2019-20 budget includes $14 million for new computers and other tech for the department, which is a down payment on what he has estimated is an $80 million need that may take up to three years to complete and also include a matching fund system with the Los Angeles Police Protective League that will be raising money privately.
Moore told the Budget and Finance Committee that in the mid 1990s, the LAPD stopped using handwritten reports and began having officers type reports on word processors.
"I'm sad to say that 25 years later, we're still using that same process. We need to modernize our technology, and I'm thankful that the mayor's budget identifies an installment on a start of that process," Moore said.
The Budget and Finance Committee began holding hearings this week on the mayor's proposed budget, and Moore attended a session dedicated to the LAPD's budget to take questions from the committee's members.
Moore said that 15 to 20 years ago, officers would spend 10 to 15 percent of their time on administrative tasks, but the number has ballooned to over 50 percent today.
The goal "on the modernization of the technology is to reduce that by half, which will allow us to increase the percent of time officers can work the field by half without adding an additional sworn position," Moore said.
"It's smart money."
Moore said the overall goal is to get each officer who works the field some sort of handheld device for doing reports. He joked that the average UPS driver has better computer technology available in the field than the average LAPD officer.
In March, Garcetti spoke to a group of reporters about the LAPD's outdated computers.
"We are one of the most backwards departments when it comes to technology," the mayor said. "Some people say we need 12,000 officers. I say, 'What would you rather have, 12,000 officers or 10,000 officers with 20 percent more time out on the streets?' To me, it's a no-brainer. It's the same pay with the same number of hours instead of more pay for extra hours."
He added, "When you arrest somebody, you spend half your day on paperwork. That should be a quick turnaround, that should be technology and tablets and better computers. Computers take at some stations 20 minutes to boot up. I want an officer out on the street for those 20 minutes."
The LAPD's outdated computers have been a long-term problem and were the focus of a Public Safety Committee meeting last November, where then- Councilman Mitchell Englander -- who is also a reserve officer with the LAPD -- complained that the issue has been brushed aside for years.
"We push for this every year to be included in the budget. And every year, without fail, it's not," said Englander, who resigned his seat at the end of 2018 to take a job in the private sector. "Every year we have this conversation and we end up in the same place. We'll note and file this, we'll move on. The budget will come out the first quarter of next year, and it won't be included."
An Information Technology Agency 2018 report said the LAPD maintains some 8,000 workstations, and about 3,000 are over seven years old. Over the years, additional software has been installed that places more demands on the computers, which has resulted in reduced performance and slower response times, the report said.