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Another Year, Another LAPD Budget Increase

Despite calls to defund the police, this year's proposed budget asks for an $118 million increase to fund 780 new cops, two new helicopters, and more.

an lapd cruiser on the boardwalk by the beach with families walking past in the background
(Image: Tomas Del Coro | Wikimedia Commons)

Another year and another LAPD budget increase — a 6.3% increase to be exact. As Mayor Karen Bass finalizes the city’s budget for 2023-24, LAPD is asking for an additional $118,834,040, bringing its total direct costs to $1,995,664,930. Over the past decade the department’s budget has grown 58% with no sign of slowing. 

Since the mass movement to defund the police swept the nation in 2020, LAPD has, among many things: killed three people in mental health crisis, shot at two unarmed people in a drive-by-style shooting, settled a $4 million sexual harassment lawsuit for a female captain, blew up a neighborhood by miscalculating the weight of fireworks, forcibly evicted the encampment at Echo Park Lake and arrested 200 people, and reappointed Chief Michel Moore, who’s had a tenure full of scandals

In a recent Loyola Marymount University (LMU) study about LAPD, over 52% of LA residents surveyed said they’d want to reallocate money from the department’s budget into other programs. In 2020, former mayor Eric Garcetti tried to meet the “urgent moment,” and reallocated $100–150 million from the LAPD budget into other programs. But ultimately, the department was never defunded and has ceased reallocating any funding from its budget into non-police-related community programs or marginalized communities.

A line graph showing the year-over-year upward trend of the LAPD police budget from 2010 to 2022.
This graph shows the total police budget over time, not including the anticipated increases from this year’s budget proposal. (Source: City of Los Angeles Open Budget)

So what’s all included in this next fiscal year’s budget? Some 780 new cops, two new helicopters, a $50 million increase in overtime, $80,000 in cell phones for “shadow teams,” and $30,000 for snacks while working during protests. 

This breakdown includes only the increases, new budget items, and continuation of financial support for programs or positions, and some numbers are rounded.

Overtime, Cost-of-Living Adjustments, and Other Contractual Obligations Dominate the Budget

A large chunk — $105,487,881 of next year’s budget growth to be exact — are contractual obligations for salaries, COLAs (cost of living adjustments), and lucrative overtime costs for the department’s 9,000+ personnel. These costs are non-negotiable and are coming in the next fiscal year no matter what. 

LAPD is asking for a $36 million increase for salaries of sworn officers. The average salary per pay period in 2022 was $4,777 and is projected to grow in the coming fiscal year when sworn officers receive a 3% salary increase — on July 2, 2023. This COLA is thanks to the contract agreement secured by LAPD and their union (the Los Angeles Police Protective League), outlined in this memorandum.  

They are also asking for a $50 million increase in overtime negotiated as part of the union memorandum, including COLAs, an overtime buyback program, and a banked overtime cash-out option for 2023-24. This increase will fund 1.2 million overtime hours that the department can use as needed. 

Overtime is one of LAPD’s largest costs, with over $60 million going to overtime alone next year. Part of the overtime costs next year will cover general overtime by the officers for various scenarios, such as providing adequate staffing for “increases in violent crime,” which the department uses — whether data supports it or not — as a rationale for their growing budget. Last year, LA saw only a 1.1% rise in violent crime. 

Included in this $60 million is a $5.5 million increase to cover the costs of banked overtime that the department is obligated to pay. This will cover what the city owes in overtime from the 2020-21 budget, which Mayor Garcetti reduced by more than $90 million as part of the city’s move to reallocate police funding. Despite this, some officers still worked and banked their overtime to be paid back at a later date. Part of next year’s overtime costs includes paying back the officers’ overtime that was banked with interest. 

All of this brings this fiscal year’s accumulated overtime payout total to $17.5 million, covering the 634 officers who are leaving during this fiscal year. An average officer will leave with an estimated $29,494 in banked overtime payout and will be paid at a higher rate thanks to the 3% increase in COLA for the fiscal year.

780 New Cops to Cover Turnover

Chief Moore, the LA Police Commission, and Mayor Bass are all in agreement on wanting to grow the department by 780 officers, to a total of at least 9,700. In their budget request, the department pointed to “COVID-19, civil unrest, budget reductions, and negative public sentiment toward policing” as factors that have contributed to a decline in recruiting new officers and the retention of newly hired officers. 

The department is currently staffed with 9,222 officers and anticipates a loss of 634 officers this fiscal year. The goal of 780 will barely cover the officers leaving the department. To help meet that difficult number of 780 officers, the department is asking for $10.7 million for hiring bonuses for both sworn and civilian officers. Those bonus breakdowns are $2.6 million for civilians and $8.1 million for sworn officers. This bonus program comes in direct response to Los Angeles City Council’s motion to mitigate attrition and hire more personnel. 

The department has struggled to hire diverse officers, specifically Black officers, and is requesting a $700,000 increase to the already budgeted $300,000 for focused diversity recruitment. The recruitment will be spent on initiatives such as travel to HBCUs and military bases in the South. And $675 million will be used to hire and contract with firms to help recruit Black, AAPI, and women by using social media marketing to showcase the department’s diverse officers’ stories. 

New cops come with hiring expenses that will cost an estimated $6.5 million, which includes $2 million on ammo and $2.9 million on new uniforms and accessories.

Fleet Replacements to Help “Reduce Greenhouse Gasses”

This year will begin LAPD’s three-year initiative to replace vehicles in its aging fleet. Over the next three years, the department plans on replacing vehicles which meet the replacement criterion of over mileage or older than 10 years. At the moment, the department has no reserve black-and-white patrol vehicles to take the place of a patrol car that is totaled or inoperable. 

Included in its fleet replacements are two new helicopters, costing $15.6 million. These will replace two aging helicopters in the department’s 18-helicopter fleet. (Don’t worry, the department estimates we can recoup the salvage value of the two old ones for $300,000–$500,000 a piece.) Police helicopters, despite their ubiquitous presence in the Los Angeles sky, have come under scrutiny for their lack of effectiveness, environmental impacts, and their use for surveillance. The helicopter fleet cost taxpayers an estimated $27 million in 2021, which included operating expenses and $8 million on the payroll.

The helicopters, which use leaded fuel, are cited to help “reduce greenhouse gasses” due to fewer cars responding to calls. Their budget request states, without evidence, that a helicopter is the equivalent of four police vehicles responding to a call and has a more extensive vantage point. 

Recurring costs for training ($633,627 for training in this budget request) and helicopter replacements, on top of maintaining the fleet and its pilots, means the fleet will continue to contribute to the department’s budget growing every year. 

LAPD is also asking for $28,961,689 for 400 replacement vehicles, including 225 unmarked dual-purpose vehicles (sedans, SUVs, vans, and light duty trucks) used by detectives, 125 plain vehicles used by civilian staff performing duties, 50 replacement motorcycles, and three new passenger buses that will be used as mass transit for cops or, most likely, mass arrests.

Surveillance Technology for Future Protests and the Olympics

The department’s use of technology to track and monitor people is extensive. In a two-month span in 2020 they captured millions of tweets, using that data to create daily social media reports that highlighted tweets from activists and orgs like Black Lives Matter and Stop LAPD Spying as well as fliers for rallies and protests and even the opening of a leftist book store. The department wants to continue to bolster their surveillance capabilities and has referred to both the upcoming Olympics and future protests as their rationale for the increase in cost.

LAPD is asking for $2,320,867 to maintain four “crime intelligence analysts” for intelligence gathering. Their job is vaguely described by the department as “working with the community to develop guidelines and strategies on how to enhance situational awareness and improve community and officer safety during critical incidents.” The $2 million request also includes technology, including tracking and using deployed field resources and analyzing open-source data “to provide intelligence during critical incidents.” 

The department did not answer for specifics on the tracking and surveillance technology they want to acquire for $450,000, nor did they answer Knock LA when asked about what specific guidelines and strategies the officers look to gain from working with the public. 

The budget also carves out $259,915 for three new “police surveillance specialist” positions. The request states that the specialists will spend most of their time using the cell phone data extraction tool Cellebrite to extract phone data for investigations that include homicides, robberies, and other crimes.

There’s an additional $83,520 budgeted for 80 cellphones for LAPD’s shadow teams, comprising undercover officers that infiltrate protests and rallies to gather intelligence. 

More Encampment Sweeps

The LMU study showed only 56% of people surveyed thought LAPD was capable of handling unhoused issues, and another study showed how ineffective sweeps are at housing people. Despite that, this year’s budget asks for multimillion-dollar budget increases to support both sweeps and outreach with very little to show for it.

LAPD is asking for $10,000,000, a $1 million increase from last year’s $9 million, to fund the mayor’s initiatives for the city’s unhoused, including the A Bridge Home (ABH) program — which supports sweeping encampments. This overtime is used to deploy officers and increase their presence in the unhoused community at ABH sites. 

The department leans heavily on the mayor’s Comprehensive Homeless Strategy as justification for asking for this increase. The department says it would fulfill the mayor’s goal of “developing a Citywide protocol to address encampments and unsheltered homelessness, including protocols that address emergency public area cleanings.” 

This $10 million ask does not include the $50 million increase in general sworn overtime the department can also pull from to support Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) and other city departments in their destructive CARE+ (which stands for cleaning and rapid engagement) sweeps of encampments.

The budget devotes $582,668 for four new police officers to serve as senior lead officers to support and coordinate efforts across the city’s four bureaus to enforce Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 41.18, which criminalizes sitting, lying, or sleeping upon any street, sidewalk, or other public way in specific locations. Funding also includes supporting and coordinating CARE operations.

A Formal Team Devoted to Olympics Preparation

The increase in policing and surveillance for the Olympics began in 2021 and, two years later, the police budget continues to grow in the lead-up to the 2028 Games. 

Mayor Bass has promised to off-load any overruns of the $6.9 billion budgeted costs of the 2028 LA Olympics away from taxpayers. But for an event that organizers say will be privately funded, the public is still on the hook for city resources used, including the LAPD.

For this year’s budget, the department is asking for $988,441 to formalize a team of four officers at varying ranks, a secretary, and a principal project coordinator — who will comprise a planning group whose sole purpose will be planning big events. This group is currently working on an ancillary basis, and this request would formalize their positions within the department. The group will work over the next five years using big events that include the presidential election in 2024 and the World Cup in 2026 to create templates in how the department responds to not just planned large-scale events, but also spontaneous events such as protests. 

Community organizers see the Olympics as a way for the department to justify its growth, funding, and surveillance. “LAPD has been using the 2028 Olympics as a pretext to acquire more resources. They’ve already gone on record saying they’ll need to hire 3,000 new full-time officers before the city can capably host the games. This Strategic Planning Team aims to facilitate LAPD’s Olympic-driven expansion and further militarization of public space,” a spokesperson for the group NOlympics said of the department’s growing Olympics budget requests. 

With the Olympics five years away and with a minimum timeline that includes after-action reporting of the games in 2029, taxpayers are on the hook for this team for the next six years. The estimated cost will total $10.2 million over that timeframe, which doesn’t even account for added expenses to implement changes found in their after-event action reports following each large-scale event.

After-Action Report Reforms and Training 

After the extensive failures by the department during the protests in 2020, taxpayers are now responsible for floating the bill to remedy the 323 recommendations in the department’s After-Action Report Implementation Plan, developed in response to 2020’s civil unrest. 

The department has claimed they’ve already engaged in better training and reforms and will continue to do so this year. But looking back to as recently as June 2022, it’s hard to see what’s changed, as the department violently attacked the press and demonstrators

To continue implementing the changes recommended by the LA Police Commission this fiscal year will cost $11.5 million. Some of those costs were included in the surveillance category above, other items include

  • $158,356 to fund a police psychologist, a new position in the department that will support officer well-being
  • $154,834 to regularize a sergeant to work with the National Guard in developing a better system for major critical incidents
  • $523,900 in overtime from the sworn overtime bank for training in field jail operations so as to not repeat previous failures like the inappropriate usage of Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA as a field jail 
  • $421,050 in “less-lethal” ammunition for crowd control training  
  • $32,000 for snacks and food for officers who are at protests and other critical incident deployments for an extended period of time

Boot Sanitizers, Veterinary Expenses, and More

LAPD is asking for $25,442 for boot sanitizers unit maintenance, up by $2,288 from last year’s budget due to maintenance costs such as biannual bulb replacements. The boot sanitizers, without funding, will be useless, and with funding the boot sanitizers will remain useless but functional. $11,984 of this budget request will go to purchasing supplies for 38 boot sanitizing units, which include twice-a-year bulb replacements. And there is an $82,017 ask so the department can have electrical outlets installed specifically for the boot sanitizers at several LAPD stations.  

For LAPD’s animal units, the department requests $56,434 to create an “equestrian facility supervisor” position to lead the care and maintenance of LAPD’s twenty-five horses who are a part of the Metropolitan Division’s Mounted Platoon. There’s also a $31,000 increase for the K9 Platoon to cover veterinary expenses.

This $118,834,040 million budget increase does not include money given to LAPD from city councilmembers’ discretionary funds. It also doesn’t factor in donations from nonprofits like the LA Police Foundation, which exists to help fund technology acquisitions and monetary donations from anonymous wealthy donors. Technology donations cost nothing at first but become new line items in the next year’s budget increases. (For example, the boot sanitizers were a donation from the LAPPL and are now a $25,000 yearly budget item to sustain their use.) It also doesn’t include any LAPD-involved lawsuits the city has to pay out, which over the past 10 years have cost taxpayers $329.9 million

The requested LAPD budget is now in the hands of the mayor and the City Administration Office, who will spend the next few weeks auditing and negotiating it before Mayor Bass releases her 2023-24 budget plan. Mayor Bass has not signaled any willingness to decrease the budget, and early indications are supportive of the department’s goals — suggesting we’ll see new reforms before we see any budget changes.