LOS ANGELES (CBS) — At least 237 police officers are spending all or part of their time performing the work of civilians — including data entry and answering phones — because the Los Angeles Police Department’s civilian workforce has been depleted by budget cuts, a report showed Tuesday.

In response, the Los Angeles City Council debated suspending the recruitment of new officers in favor of hiring civilians — but postponed a decision until the LAPD can estimate the optimum mix of police officers and civilians it needs to function efficiently.

A report signed by LAPD Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur showed that 154 “sworn personnel” — police officers — have been assigned to perform the duties of 120 vacant civilian positions. The report was based on a recent survey of certain LAPD divisions and offices.

LAPD Personnel Director Francois Gardere said that number does not include the 83 police officers being pulled off patrol duty to become jailers at the Metropolitan Detention Center, which is opening in February.

“This is unacceptable,” Councilman Bill Rosendahl said. “We want sworn officers out protecting and serving. we don’t need them to do clerical (work).”

Of the 154 officers listed in the report, 29 work as “clerk typists” — six of them on a full-time basis. Another five officers are working as “maintenance laborers” — one of them full-time, and the rest of them for half of each shift.

The report added that one officer is designated as an “equine keeper” 75 percent of the time; and another is a “principal photographer” 33 percent of the time. Three officers spend a portion of their time as “audio-visual technicians.”

Most of the rest work as crime and intelligence analysts, police service representatives, and community police aides.

MacArthur said the survey showed that the equivalent of 47 officers spend 100 percent of their time performing civilian duties. That number does not include any of the officers currently undergoing training to become jailers at the new lockup downtown.

Councilman Bernard Parks — a former LAPD chief — said civilian hiring has been undermined by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s policy of maintaining the ranks of the LAPD at 9,963 police officers.

He recommended suspending the recruitment of new cadets and using the savings to hire civilians.

“It’s within your purview to do it,” Parks told his council colleagues. “If you choose to alter the current budget, it takes eight votes or 10 votes, depending on whether the mayor vetoes it. You can do that today.”

“The key is whether you have the will to do it,” Parks added.

He said neither the police nor fire departments can afford to have their civilian workforce shrunk even further by an ongoing hiring freeze.

“Firefighters do not fix trucks,” Parks said. “Pretty soon that equipment will wear down and the mechanics are not there. It’s going to come to a screeching halt, and you’re going to have the full level of sworn personnel but not enough civilian support to cause them to be effective.”

Councilman Paul Koretz said the size of the sworn workforce should be allowed to shrink from the current level of 9,963 by attrition — meaning new officers would not be recruited to replace retiring officers.

“I know the department will scream and yell, but (maintaining 9,963 police officers) is only a P.R. issue, it’s not a real enforcement issue,” Koretz said. “We’re not getting any enforcement out of those 300 people doing desk jobs.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (19)
  1. JT says:

    Retired military, want to get back in the mix think about volinteering You did it once now lets think hard.

  2. Alex Alva says:

    RIDICULOUS They could get many many qualified people to GLADLY do this work but I would BET the unions have to be involved???

  3. Doreen says:

    I agree with hiring civilians to do office related and non enforcement jobs, i.e,, maintenence, etc. We need more jobs for the unemployed (I am unemployed and would take a city civilian job in a heartbeat). Yes, we need cops on the street but not as many as you’d think. There are criminals being let out daily in droves but do the cops put them back in jail? No, jail is a revolving door now and criminals run freely due to overcrowding. So why do we need all the cops now? Guess office work is better than being layed off.

    1. Carol says:

      Same here Doreen.

      I’ve been unemployed since ’09 and would love to get back to work. I won’t even ask for health insurance since we get it from my husband’s employer. I’ll even start at minimum wage. There’s a lot that people will have to sacrifice in order to get back to work.

      1. KB says:

        What type of work have you done Carol? What is your experience? I need a few professionals who are good public speakers and educators..

  4. bugman says:

    dumb question, viet nam vet , military is one thing with the term civilians,why do the police and fire dept use the same term ?

  5. Richard says:

    Yes there a lot of Unemployed People that would be willing to do those jobs and as Carol put it at Minimum wage but then again likeAlex put it the Unions have there hand in on that Issue.

  6. ralph says:

    Since this story is about LAPD why don’t you put a picture of a LAPD OFFICER. Not some officer from another department

  7. Marcus says:

    Just like the military budget is bleeding the country dry, so does spending on the police bleed cities dry. More cops, all earning overtime, plus a massive civilian infrastructure, and crime is worse than ever (despite statistics telling us crime is back to the level of the 50’s).

  8. Ron says:

    Marcus: LAPD cops aren’t “all earning overtime.” They haven’t been collecting overtime for many, many months now. If they work extra hours it goes into a comp time bank. If they have too many hours in the time bank, they are forced to take days off to get the time on their books low again.

  9. Luis Quintero says:

    so how about more and more sworn keep getting hired but what about the jailers that are working their butts off to book and process these arrestees? those jailers are working three times as hard to keep up with the ever increasing sworn officers who are bringing in arrestees. there has to be a balanced ratio of sworn and jailers. you cannot keep hiring sworn yet not hire any more jailers. those jailers book all those bodies that are brought in by these officers and still they want to take these sworn off the streets to replace the jailers. where is the integrity in this. they get paid more to be out there now put them out there on the streets. no offense to both sworn or jailers.

  10. mike says:

    People forget that the officers doing “civilian jobs” are most likely older, out of shape, and not enforcement ready…….does the city want to have those people running around on the streets chasing after 17 year old misfits?

    Also LAPD does not get paid for overtime, that argument is moot. I agree that the city should either hire more civilians or jailers, and if civilians, then they should put those older officers into the jail to watch after the idiots that the cops bring in.

  11. Joung says:

    It’s either freeze hiring of non sworn position, or shrink the sworn officer position by not hiring more officers to fill in the attrition.

    There will be a personnel shortage either way. What the people on Park’s side is not telling you is that it will be much more difficult and costly to refill sworn officer position than refilling non-sworn position.

    Those officers doing clerical work who does not have a disability can be pulled to street duty as soon as a non-sworn posiiton is filled. But, it does not work the other way around. And, there are officers on light duty because of injury, etc. So, using them for clerical work makes good sense.

  12. Joung says:

    Yes, non-sworn civilians, jailers, officers, they’re all doing hard work. But, fact of the mater is that there is not enough money to keep them all. In that case, it makes sense to keep personnel who are the most costly and hardest to replace. That will going to be sworn positions.

    No one likes the situation, but tha’s what it boils down to.

  13. Mary Beth says:

    SEIU, the union involved was told about this months ago, they failed to do anything about it.
    Brian Hollenbaugh stayed loyal to the union all while selling out his troops.
    He should have been honest and told the men and women detention officers the union doesn’t care.
    Now only after the LAPPL got involved did they do anything about it.
    This story was on an LA Cityworkers Website in September, the union didn’t care then either.
    When it comes down to it, the City of LA will be best served by contracting out to astras security or one of the other many security companies the city already has under contract and privatize the work, all while having only a few sworn personnel to oversee the process.
    Bidding should begin before the end of the year, thanks Brian Thanks SEIU!

  14. alan hart says:

    When the police stop drawing $100,000 in overtime benefits, maybe the department could hire some employees. IF police officers are doing clerical work, we obviously don’t need any more police officers.

  15. LOU says:

    Bernard Parks what a joke, raking in $268k per year from LAPD pension, $179kper year LAcity council, Dennis Zine retired LAPD same as parkrs, raking in $179 per year plus COLA and perks, Mike Antonovich, one of six per year granted a CCW that no other citizens can obtain thanks to another double dipper, Sheriff BACA.WHY is california going broke?

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