Update: The LA City Council on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, voted 12-3 in favor of a four-year LAPD contract that gives salary raises and retention bonuses to the LAPD.
The LA City Council is set to vote Wednesday on a labor contract that would give raises and bonuses to police officers as a way to address a persistent staffing shortage in the department. The labor contract could lead to about $1 billion in additional costs for the city over the next four years.
LA Mayor Karen Bass has said the proposed labor deal with the Los Angeles Police Protective League — the union for the nearly 9,000 officers in the department — is “consistent” with the goal she set in her budget this year to attract and keep police officers.
Angelenos will need to get up bright and early Wednesday morning to take part in discussion of the contract. The contract will be taken up early Wednesday, at the LA City Council’s Personnel, Audits and Hiring Committee, which oversees employee relations matters. The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m., and it will be the only official chance for people to give public comment on the matter, which will only be taken from people who attend in-person. There will be no chance to give comments remotely, such as over the phone, at this committee meeting.
The contract will then be sent to the full City Council to be discussed at its 10 a.m. meeting the same morning. In-person and remote comment on the issue will not be required to be heard during that meeting on the issue — though people can use the general comment period to talk about it.
The proposal also faces resistance from critics of increased spending on police, on the City Council, who point to other city services that need the funds, as well as unarmed response programs. They include Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, who represents an eastside district, and who voted against the budget in May, pointing to the LAPD budget taking up the largest portion of the city’s available funds, leaving little room for other needs.
Angelenos will likely see two different numbers used during deliberations.
And as with past discussion on the LA police department budget, numbers can differ depending on the official talking about it. Both numbers are valid, but describe the contract’s impact in different ways.
The labor contract would lead to about $1 billion in additional costs over the next four years, according to figures shared by council members, as well as the city controller.
The city administrative officer, meanwhile, describes the fiscal impacts in annual terms. He estimates that by the end of the four years, the annual cost of the LAPD contract would be $384 million more than what is now spent on police officer compensation.
The city administrative officer, who negotiated with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, released a six-page fact sheet about the proposed labor contract on Friday, and the full contract proposal.
You can also see the CAO’s office’s responses to LA Public Press’s questions about the fiscal impact of the contract at the end of the story.
Part of the additional costs presented by the police officer contract would be set aside to pay for a nearly 13% raise in the starting pay of newly recruited officers. Officers just starting out in the department would be offered a salary of $83,423 a year starting off, up from $74,020.
The proposal would also raise the base wages of current officers by 3% a year, for four years, for a cumulative raise of 12%, by the end of the four-year contract. The proposal also includes increases to the city’s contribution to benefits, including a 5% bump to healthcare subsidies.
Aides with the council offices of Hernandez, Nithya Raman and Hugo Soto-Martinez said the members plan to vote against the contract on Wednesday. Hernandez said in an interview Tuesday that the public needs more time to understand the proposed contract.
“The impact of this proposed contract is huge,” she said. “And I don’t really believe that we’re outlining it accurately enough for Angelenos to understand, like what the impact will be for the city and our city budget. You know, the report says that the general fund will be impacted over the next four years in the amount of about $400 million. The more accurate actual assessment is that it’s closer to a billion dollars because it’s layered year after year.”
Hernandez and other council members are expected to hold a news conference ahead of the 8:30 a.m. committee meeting. Also expected to join the news conference is Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles’ Melina Abdullah, who says that more city funds should be put toward mental health and housing resources, and “paying city workers who are not cops.”
“If the money is used for LAPD or earmarked for LAPD, it means that it’s difficult to access those resources for the things that the city actually needs,” she said.
The board of the police union said in a statement that the contract “represents a smart investment designed to keep Angelenos safe by providing incentives to retain experienced officers and to recruit qualified candidates to enter the police academy so that the downward staffing trend can be reversed.”
LA city leaders signed off on a city spending plan in May of this year, that include bonuses and incentives aimed at attracting new police officers, after declines in recent years to officer ranks. A tentative agreement with the police union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, was reached Aug. 1 to give raises and increase benefits to officers. The police union’s board of directors announced Aug. 11 that their members approved the contract with a “nearly 2-1 majority.”
When the labor agreement was reached, LA Mayor Karen Bass said it fits into the goal she set, in her budget proposal, to hire more officers and retain more of the officers currently on the force. Bass had set a goal of restoring the officer ranks to at least 9,500 by the end of this fiscal year, which ends June 2024.