LAPD Officer Recruitment & Retirements

April 7, 2006

Officer Recruitment

Eds: Bratton aide Mary Grady can be reached at (213) 485-3205.

By ART MARROQUIN, City News Service

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles Police Department is aggressively seeking new recruits through a variety of programs, relaxed hiring practices and aggressive advertising, police Chief William Bratton said today.

“We’re hiring and we desperately need people to join up,” Bratton said during a news conference at the LAPD’s dispatch center.

The city allocated funding to hire 369 officers during the current fiscal year which ends June 30, but the LAPD expects to bring in only 270 to 280 new hires.

“Everybody’s hiring. We’re competing for a very small pool of candidates,” Bratton said. “We have very high standards to enter the department. The irony of it is that we finally have the funds to expand the size of the department, but we’re struggling.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he wants to hire more than 1,000 new officers before the end of his term.

In hopes of bolstering the force, LAPD officials relaxed the department’s stringent guidelines on hiring recruits with bad credit and those who openly admitted to past drug use.

Additionally, the city’s Personnel Department is spending $2 million in advertising during the current fiscal year to recruit more racial minorities and women as LAPD candidates.

Bratton said he also hopes to gather recruits from the Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet School Program, which was established at five high schools in 1996 to prepare about 1,185 students annually for careers in law enforcement.

The department currently allows more civilians to conduct administrative duties at police stations so that more officers can patrol the streets. But officials want to extend that opportunity to those with past law enforcement or military experience who are waiting on a background check and academy training to become an LAPD officer, according to Lt. Kenneth Garner, head of the LAPD’s Personnel Group.

Additionally, Councilman Greig Smith unveiled two proposals last month that he said would help the city attract qualified police officers and firefighters.

Smith wants to expand a home ownership program that helps officers and firefighters buy homes in Los Angeles, rather than in neighboring cities.

With the median home in Los Angeles around $575,000, some officers and firefighters cannot afford property in the city, and as a result, many public safety personnel live in suburbs such as Santa Clarita and Simi Valley, according to Smith, a reserve police officer.

Smith also wants the city to be able to buy out the pensions of officers and firefighters who want to transfer to Los Angeles from other jobs with other public safety agencies in California.

Police Retirements

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A City Council committee agreed today that a deferred retirement program for LAPD officers should be extended for another five years to give the understaffed department more time to recruit new officers.

The council’s Personnel Committee unanimously agreed to extend the LAPD’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, which provides better retirement packages for veteran officers who agree to postpone retirement.

Extending the DROP program for the LAPD’s commanders is also in the works, as negotiations are under way with the police union, according to Cmdr. Kenneth Garner, head of the department’s Personnel Group.

The LAPD is facing a dramatic departure of seasoned officers when DROP begins pushing them into mandatory retirement next year.

More than 1,600 police officers and city firefighters who previous signed up for the DROP program will be required to retire over the next five years, including fire Chief William Bamattre, Bratton said.

In the fiscal year that starts July 1, the LAPD will lose one deputy chief, four commanders, seven captains and 116 detectives, according to a report recently prepared by Bratton.

The DROP program, initiated in 2002, allows police officers and firefighters with at least 30 years of service to continue working at full salary and receive pension payments, which are put into holding accounts.

At the end of five years, the employee gets the five years worth of pension checks. The worker also benefits because his or her pension payment rate will have been boosted by five years of cost-of-living increases.

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