Karen Bass increases LAPD budget by 6.3%

Amid years of decline in police officers retention, L.A. mayor announces increase in budget.

Photo of a sign in front of a building

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced a controversial proposal Tuesday to increase the budget of the L.A. Police Department and hire hundreds of new officers in the mayor’s first city budget.

The proposed budget would increase the LAPD’s budget by almost 119 million, a 6.3% increase from last year’s budget.

“I believe that living in a safe neighborhood is the right of every Angeleno,” Bass said in her budget proposal.

The LAPD currently operates on a budget of $1.9 billion which represents 16% of L.A.’s overall budget. When costs like pensions and health benefits are considered, the number rises to $3.15 billion, representing 26.8% of the overall budget.

Data collected by the Action Center on Race and the Economy found that other major cities, those with a spending budget of more than $5 million, spend significantly less on policing. The New York Police Department, the largest police department in the country, spends only 5% (about 5,000 million) of the city’s overall budget.

In 2020 L.A. City Council cut the LAPD police budget by $150 million after massive protests following the murder of George Floyd.

However, the budget’s increase comes after concerns about the years-long decline of LAPD officers, having lost nearly 1,000 police officers since 2019.

In her first State of the City Address, Bass noted her “deep worry” for this concern and proposed “aggressive recruiting” and incentives for those who join the LAPD. Her proposed budget calls for the city to restore the department to 9,500 officers, which now stands at 9,103.

Also addressed was the improper handling done by LAPD in the past, with Bass emphasizing the need for training that makes officers more equipped to deal with those mental illnesses. This comes after an LAPD investigation was launched in January, following three people with mental illnesses dying at the hands of the police.

“The whole process is making sure that the LAPD knows when to pull off,” Bass said. “But then we have to make sure that somebody picks up the phone.”

In an open letter Bass submitted alongside her budget proposal, she stated that “public safety means different things to different neighborhoods,” and her community safety plan “is tailored to the unique needs [of] communities in Los Angeles.”

Some residents support Mayor Bass’s proposal. Betty Carter, a resident of West L.A, said that she notices police officers everywhere in her neighborhood, but doesn’t mind.

“I think they should be involved in the social services around the neighborhood. It’s a good thing,” Carter said. “You know, it makes you feel secure. I live alone, so I need to be made to feel secure.”

Ottnar Alteanirano, a South L.A. resident who also expressed his approval for increased police presence in his neighborhood, says that crime was “taking over.”

As of April 1, violent crime had decreased by 11.7% since last year. In response to these numbers, LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore emphasized how the crime had increased since 2019, with the number of homicides and motor vehicle theft increasing by 8.2 and 47%, respectively.

But while some individuals believe an increase in police numbers would best serve their communities, other L.A. residents believe in bolstering the city’s budget elsewhere.

A study conducted by LMU in 2022, found that 52% of L.A. residents supported proposals to redirect money from the LAPD budget.

USC sophomore business major Rafael Andrade believes increasing the police force is not the only way to come back increasing crime rate. He said he “100%” agrees with those who argue that the proposed police funding should be diverted toward social services and community programs.

“The problem is that law enforcement doesn’t actually address the root causes of why harm happens in our communities,” said Ivette Alé-Ferlito, the co-founder of La Defensa, a movement seeking to decarcerate the L.A. County jail system. “In fact, law enforcement doesn’t prevent any harm. Law enforcement is called when things have already happened.”

Alé-Ferlito believes the mayor should devote more attention to creating a better outreach program that is more effective at linking people to services that they need.

“Our police officers know as well as anyone: Law enforcement is only one piece of the puzzle,” Bass said. “Breaking cycles of crime must be the goal. This work of ending the vicious cycle of violence requires prevention, intervention, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and police reform.”

Correction: The previous article had Ivette Alé-Ferlito as Ivette Guillermo. It was corrected on April 21, 2023.