Amid a rising crime rate and officer complaints that response times are slower, a City Council committee will begin examining Tuesday if the Los Angeles Police Department needs to increase its regular patrols.
A motion submitted in January by council members Mike Bonin and Joe Buscaino and seconded by Councilman Mitchell Englander calls on the LAPD to look at increasing patrols, including dismantling some specialized units and hiring more civilians to move officers off desk duty.
According to the motion, when the city had about a million less residents in 1969, there were 6,194 sworn Los Angeles Police Department officers and an average 337 officers on patrol during the day shift. In December, with 9,885 sworn LAPD officers, an average of 311 were on patrol.
“Too often, I hear from constituents that they rarely see a patrol car in their neighborhood, or that it takes LAPD too long to respond to an emergency call. Our neighborhoods deserve better,” Bonin said on Jan. 19 when he previewed his motion.
The motion said that some LAPD officers contend the department’s Patrol Plan is not consistently followed and the 7/40 Mandate — which requires officers to respond to all emergency calls within seven minutes and to devote 40 percent of their time to proactive policing activities — is not being met.
A recent survey conducted by the L.A. Police Protective League — the union representing the LAPD rank-and-file, which supports the motion — indicated that 87 percent of the 1,200 officers responding to the survey did not believe divisional deployment was sufficient to respond to 911 calls in a timely manner, and 89 percent did not believe deployment was sufficient to conduct community policing.
The motion, being considered after Los Angeles in 2016 experienced its third consecutive year of rising crime, would also ask the department to review its “basic car” areas, which are geographic boundaries for patrol assignments that have not been reviewed in decades.
The motion also would instruct the LAPD to report back with an explanation of how daily police deployment and patrol strafing levels are determined.
Englander, Buscaino and Bonin are all on the Public Safety Committee, which will be voting on the motion Tuesday. Buscaino and Englander are also both reserve LAPD officers.
“The LAPD closely monitors our service to the community through its patrol, detective and other specialized units to ensure that taxpayer funds are used in the most effective manner possible,” Josh Rubenstein, an LAPD spokesman, said in a statement on Jan. 19.
“We are now rebuilding our civilian workforce as it is a critical component to leveraging those limited resources. The LAPD will continue to work closely with our community partners and city leaders to use our precious police resources to reduce crime and victimization for all Angelenos.”