06/10/2011

Union leaders call LAPD warning a 'ploy'

L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck says dept. would be forced to lay off cops

By PoliceOne Staff

LOS ANGELES — Unless an agreement can be reached with union leaders to extend a deal on overtime benefits, Chief Charlie Beck of the LAPD will send home thousands of police officers, he said in a public warning.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the staffing reductions would happen across the board--downsizing specialized units, dropping the number of officers on patrol, and reducting investigations into lower-priority crimes.

Officials from the Police Protective League, however, dismissed Beck's warning as a misguided ploy to pressure them into making concessions. The League represents rank-and-file officers.

The city of Los Angeles is strapped for cash, so this year, the LAPD has not been paying officers overtime wages except in rare situations. Police and union officials negotiated a deal in which the threshold for making payments was lifted and, in lieu of cash, officers took time off when they had reached 250 overtime hours.

The agreement is set to expire at the end of the month, so city and union negotiators must come to a new agreement or the old overtime rules will again take effect.

The existing setup drains funds, which would cause the layoffs of which Beck has warned.

"I am obligated to make plans for changes that I do not necessarily want to make. At this point, it is only my intention to prepare you for what lies ahead," Beck wrote. "It is not my desire to reassign officers out of their current assignments, but it is the only way the department can maintain the level of front-line resources that are essential for the protection of the public's safety." His statements appear in the Los Angeles Times article.

Paul M. Weber, president of the Police Protective League, says the blame lay with elected city officials for not funding the department more fully. The argument about overtime and layoffs comes at a time when the LAPD runs a $41 million deficit.

Ongoing contract negotiations will continue to involve the Department, the League, and the city.

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