Less than a year after reaching its long-sought goal of 10,000 officers, the Los Angeles Police Department is seeing a steady decline in its ranks as the city struggles to find enough qualified candidates, the Los Angeles Times reports. Fewer people are applying and, of those who do, a significantly higher number are being disqualified from consideration. Officials say budget cuts have slashed the advertising used to draw recruits while other departments are luring top talent with higher salaries than the police department offers.
Since the decline began several months ago, the department is down more than 100 officers. It needs to hire about 350 officers a year to make up for normal attrition, and officials say they could remain understaffed for years if the current trend holds. Earlier this year, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Chief Charlie Beck celebrated the 10,000-officer milestone, a target the city has sought to attain since the L.A. riots in 1992. “Our entire plan is getting screwed up…. We don’t see an end to it,” said Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur, who oversees recruitment and training. “It is a very big red flag for us. Once you start losing ground, it is so hard to climb back.”