LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Police Department reported a significant officer shortage; less than 9,000 officers for the first time since the 1990s.
Documentation obtained by FOX 11 News revealed that the LAPD has 8,967 officers as of July 2023. The decrease raised concerns about the department's ability to maintain public safety effectively.
"It's a combination of events; certainly, COVID and the pandemic created a crisis of unmatched proportion when it comes to economics," said LAPD Chief Michel Moore. "There also was the defund or downsizing of the organization as a belief that alternative services could and should do the work, so we stopped hiring for nearly a year."
"They're counting officers that are off or injured or on vacation," said Roybal. "The numbers don't reflect the true number of people that are on patrol, and that means fewer officers to investigate and respond to crime."
Due to the shrinking LAPD workforce, the department has had to reduce or eliminate some services.
"For instance, traffic collisions. Historically, we would respond to and investigate minor traffic collisions; today, those reports are taken online," said Moore. "Theft investigations, non-violent crimes are now investigated frequently by an online report in lieu of an officer actually going out to the scene."
Zine blames the anti-police rhetoric from the public and current LA council members for the decline in recruitment.
"Why would anyone want to join the police department? You're not gonna make a fortune, you're gonna risk your life, and you're gonna be criticized," said Zine. "You've got council members that are gonna vote against you."
Despite the low number of officers, Chief Moore said the department will continue to prioritize public safety.
In response to LAPD's report, Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement, that said in part: "My number one job is to keep Angelenos safe. In April, I proposed a budget to address concerns within the Los Angeles Police Department and to provide investments to hire more police officers, expedite the hiring process, and improve retention."
The mayor's proposal included an 11% pay raise plus other benefits for law enforcement.