In a display of brinkmanship that could throw ongoing contract talks into turmoil, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck issued a public warning that the LAPD would have to send home thousands of police officers unless an agreement can be reached with union leaders to extend a deal on overtime benefits, reports the city’s Times. The staffing reductions, Beck and other police officials said, would force the department to shutter or dramatically reduce the size of some specialized units, forgo investigating lower-priority crimes and perhaps drop the number of officers working regular patrol shifts.
The Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file officers, dismissed Beck’s warning as a ploy to pressure them into making concessions. The LAPD has not been paying officers most overtime wages for the last year. In previous years, their contract entitled officers to receive payments once they accrued 96 hours of overtime. To bypass that requirement, police and union officials negotiated a deal in which the threshold for making payments was lifted and, in lieu of cash, officers were required to take time off when they banked about 250 hours of overtime. That agreement expires June 30, and unless negotiators agree on a new contract or an extension, the department will revert back to the old overtime rules. If that occurs, Beck said, he would have to force officers to take time off well before they reached the 96-hour limit, and the drain on manpower would seriously strain the department’s ability to adequately staff police stations throughout the city.