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Council Votes 9-0 To Delay Decision On Whether Or When To Fund Replenishment Police Academy Class Until City Mgm't March Budget Report, Council Requests Mgm't Academy "Plan" But Gives Mgm't No Council Directive (For Now) To Fund Recruits In March Or In FY13

In contrast to LB, L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Beck publicly oppose cutting LA's police level to balance their City Hall's budget; see L.A. media links included

(Feb. 15, 2012) -- As seen LIVE on LBReport.com and reported last night on our front page, the City Council voted 9-0 at its Feb. 14 meeting to approve a recommendation by Councilmembers Robert Garcia and James Johnson (chair and member respectively of Council's Public Safety Committee) to direct the "City Manager to prepare a multi-year Police Academy and Recruitment Plan, in accordance with the adopted budget, and present it to Council during the March budget update."

Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who dissented on the recommendation as a member of the Public Safety Committee, made no substitute motion when the item came to the full Council.

The Council's voted action doesn't recommend -- and takes no position on -- providing funding for a replenishment police academy class in FY12 (now) or in FY13 (begins Oct. 1, 2012); it asks city management to provide a "plan" (details not made public yet). In Council colloquy, city management indicated (as it has previously) that it foresees deficits (technically City Hall expenses expected to exceed projected revenue) in the coming years, with details to be provided in March.

Since Sept. 2009, the Council has voted to balance City Hall's budget in part by cutting roughly 150 budgeted officers and letting police levels attrit by not funding replenishment police academy classes.

At last night's Council meeting, Police Chief Jim McDonnell reiterated his estimate that the earliest replenishment Academy classes could begin (applying an accelerated and optimistic time line) is roughly December 2012. A large Police Academy class would amount to roughly 40 recruits, of whom some percentage don't graduate. That means a replenishment Police Academy class (if the Council approved it in March for FY13) may barely keep up (or possibly fall short) of replacing expected retirements/exits in calendar year 2012...in which case LB police levels would fall further.

Councilmembers Robert Garcia and James Johnson both said they would like to see additional police but said this should be done in a fiscally responsible manner. City management has routinely included funding toward replenishment Academy classes in its proposed budgets, but the Council has routinely reallocated for sums the past three years to fund current officers (ensuring LB police levels will decline without replenishment as officers retire and exit).

During Council colloquy, Councilman James Johnson reiterated his stance -- consistent with a proviso he insisted on including when he seconded Garcia's Committee motion in January -- that police staffing levels should be decided in the context of the City's overall budget discussions this coming summer (with Council votes in September on FY13 budget). Councilman Garcia accepted Johnson's proviso in the Committee and didn't dissent from it during the Council's Feb. 14 meeting.

In contrast to Long Beach, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck have both opposed cutting their city's police levels to help balance City Hall's budget. For coverage via ABC7 and KNX/1070 radio (CBS) of their positions, click here and click here.

At present, residents of Long Beach (L.A. County's second largest city) now have a City Council-General Fund-budgeted police level roughly equivalent per capita to Los Angeles cutting over 25% of LAPD's officers.

In November 2010, Police Chief McDonnell advised the Council's Public Safety Committee of timelines for a replenishment Academy class. The meeting occurred after the Council (without dissents) voted to cut 140 budgeted officers in Sept. 2009 and 2010. Committee chair Garcia called the situation a "crisis" in November 2010...but didn't report the situation to full Council during 2011. In September 2011, a Council majority (including Garcia) voted to cut about 10 additional officers and voted in October 2011 voted to spend roughly $18 million in accrued oil revenue for items that didn't avert further police cuts or include a replenishment police Academy class.

LB Police Officers Association President Steve James, who testified at the Public Safety Committee's Jan. 31 meeting in support of an immediate commitment to fund a replenishment police academy class, didn't testify at the full Council meeting on Feb. 14.

Long time Wrigley community advocate Maria Norvell testified that her neighborhood had just experienced an armed home invasion robbery...and went on to support Councilman Garcia's proposed action.

Community advocate Diana Lejins spoke in support of increased police levels...and began her testimony by saying that Councilman Patrick O'Donnell didn't appear to be listening. [Councilman O'Donnell told us after the meeting that he was listening while standing against the Council Chamber wall, was looking at Ms. Lejins and indicated to her that he could hear her].

Ms. Lejins' remark about Councilman O'Donnell rankled Mayor Bob Foster, who interrupted Ms. Lejins' testimony to defend Councilmembers who, the Mayor said, were free to speak to other...and the Mayor went on to commend the Council for its attention to public input.

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