Los Angeles can’t afford to take advantage of federal funds to hire more police officers, the Los Angeles Times reports. City Administrative Officer Bill Fujioka suggested yesterday that the city accept the federal grant but not use it until next year, when the city treasury may be able to pay the matching funds required.
Officials may ask voters in March for approval of a real estate parcel fee to help pay for hiring 1,000 or more police officers and other safety priorities. With 9,263 officers, Los Angeles has far fewer officers per capita than the other five largest U.S. cities. New York City, with a population more than twice that of Los Angeles, has 36,000.
The U.S. Justice Department has awarded Los Angeles $20.8 million to pay part of the cost of hiring 278 additional police officers over three years, on condition that the city provide the rest of the necessary money. Fujioka said that if the officers were hired this year, the city would have to come up with $41.4 million during the next three years to match the grant. The city is facing a $47-million cut in state revenue and must deal with a $13.7-million shortfall in police salaries because of pay increases.
Police Chief William J. Bratton said he would like to start using grant funds to hire officers this year. One official is exploring the possibility of going to voters in the March 2 election with a ballot measure to boost fees on property tax bills for police needs.