Cops' Union Out in Force Against Budget Cuts

The union that represents the Los Angeles Police Department rank-and-file announced today that it has launched a public relations campaign aimed at maintaining full funding for the force.

 As part of the campaign, dubbed "Public Safety First," the Los Angeles Police Protective League said it was sending e-mails to nearly 400,000 registered voters in the city, asking them to sign a petition "in support of public safety," said union President Paul Weber.

"Los Angeles police officers are deeply concerned that the city may seek to solve its financial crisis by making inappropriate and ill-advised cuts to the public safety budget," Weber said in a statement.

"These cuts will have a direct impact upon every officer and the residents they are sworn to protect and serve,'' Weber said.

The city's $7 billion budget would require a number of layoffs and furlough days for various civilian employees, but police officers and firefighters will not be affected by such measures, officials have said.

The budget expected to be in place on July 1, the start of the fiscal year, also will allow police Chief William Bratton to replace officers who retire or leave the department, but it takes away money needed for promotions and the hiring of civilian employees.

There are 300 vacant positions in the police department that would otherwise be staffed by civilians -- employees who are not police officers. The civilians working in the LAPD will likely be required to take 26 unpaid days throughout the year to make up for an $18 million cut in salaries.

 An average of 900 officers a year are promoted. But with cuts -- and with a hiring freeze in place -- all promotions will have to be run past the Los Angeles City Council, the chief said last week.

"It is going to be a major problem," Bratton said. "I hope they bring their mattresses and pillows to the city council chamber because they're never going to be able to leave if they have to review every promotion because I'm going to continue to send promotion requests."

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