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May 11, 2006
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LAPD to move officers from desk jobs to the street

Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved 

Told by the mayor to cut LAPD expenses, Police Chief William J. Bratton has identified dozens of desk jobs in which civilians might be able to take over for police officers in order to put more officers on the street.

But the chief defended another practice that the mayor listed among his concerns, allowing hundreds of command staff members and others on the force to drive city cars home at night and offered no plan to reduce the number.

In March, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked Bratton to look at potential efficiencies within the 12,400-employee Los Angeles Police Department, including the reduction of officers and adjutants working in administrative positions, as well as whether it was necessary for all the cars to be taken home at night.

In a 12-page letter released by the mayor's office this week, Bratton said the department has been cutting costs -- saving more than $11.8 million so far.

"The department continues to evaluate the ability to civilianize [existing] positions and to staff new programs with civilians rather than sworn personnel," Bratton wrote.

Having a civilian do a desk job currently done by a police officer saves about 20% in salary and benefits and frees the officer for duty on the street, where the police force is short, said Deputy Chief Michael Berkow.

Bratton said 12 positions once held by civilians, including subpoena control officers and property disposition coordinators, are filled by officers; they will soon be filled by civilians.

Another 12 sworn positions working on performance auditing are also proposed to be filled by civilians, and 23 other auditing positions are being considered for civilians rather than supervisory sworn officers.

The mayor had also asked the chief to justify the number of police officers working in administrative jobs, including as adjutants or assistants to command officers.

The chief said the ratio of adjutants to command staff is one-to-one, and that 246 police officers, 167 sergeants and 117 detectives are currently assigned to administrative functions.

Regarding employees taking home city cars, Bratton said that 135 home-garaged vehicles are assigned to command officers and staff, with an average annual operating cost for each of $4,140.

The chief's report said there also were 675 vehicles assigned to non-command officers and staff that can be taken home at night.

The chief defended the policy, which other city departments practice, though not as extensively. "It would be erroneous" to apply to the LAPD the policy of other city departments on the home-garaging of vehicles, Bratton wrote. "Greater responsibility is placed on our command and staff officers to respond to situations.... All command and staff officers are subject to off-hour call outs during emergency situations."

The mayor's office did not return calls for comment.

City Councilman Jack Weiss, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, said, "I'm not inclined to do anything to increase the amount of time appropriate personnel take to respond to crimes and emergencies." 

Full story: LAPD to move officers from desk jobs to the street

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