06/09/2011 07:57 pm ET | Updated Aug 09, 2011

LAPD's Overtime Pay Woes Could Lead To Staffing Shortage

The LAPD is facing staffing shortages if a temporary overtime policy is not extended, according to a statement released by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

Los Angeles' approved $6.9 billion budget included $80 million in cuts from the LAPD by eliminating overtime pay for officers. The LAPD is still charged with figuring out an additional $41 million in cuts, according to Beck, and it all depends on whether he can work with the union Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL).

Currently, the overtime policy is that officers can rack up 400 hours of "compensatory time off" (CTO) instead of overtime pay in cash. The temporary measure was instituted this fiscal year, and is about to reset to 96 hours in July. The LAPD is still in talks with the LAPPL about extending the CTO policy, but in the meantime Beck is forced to make plans for the day officers are brought back to the 96-hour policy.

Beck mentioned in his statement that he planned to reassign staff from "specialized commands" to patrols to ensure adequate staffing and reasonable response time for emergencies and other front-line issues. In his statement, he said, "If I am forced to give time off at a less than 96 hour threshold, it will mean having far fewer officers available to respond to emergency calls for help."

Another measure to cope with the potential change is to send police officers home after they bank about 30 hours of overtime pay, reports the LA Times. Beck's chief of staff explained the gravity of the situation to the the LA Times:

Department averages indicate that more than 1,000 of the LAPD’s nearly 10,000 officers would reach that level in eight weeks or less, while the average officer would hit the limit in about four months, said Cmd. Rick Jacobs, Beck’s chief of staff.

In a statement, LAPPL president Paul M. Weber blamed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the LA City Council for the CTO policy:

We are not going to sit by and allow our membership to be scapegoats for the failure of City leaders to adequately fund public safety in the budget process. The League has consistently shown its willingness to bargain in good faith. By passing the buck from the City Council to the Mayor to the Chief of Police, City leaders have shown a lack of commitment to public safety and needlessly created this situation.

Right now, the LAPD has 540 fewer working officers because of the current CTO policy, according to the LAPPL statement. Weber also noted that another vote from the union membership is needed to extend the policy, not a new negotiation between the LAPD and union heads.

When the CTO policy was first instated, Beck warned that forced time off instead of overtime pay was a blow to morale and removed hundreds of cops from street patrol, ABC 7 reported. Now Beck is fighting to keep CTO at 400 hours in place to prevent an even bigger decrease in police presence.