LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Police Department is facing a drought of applicants to hire as patrol officers.
With more than 100 openings to fill, LAPD officials are warning of a steady decline in qualified applicants, with a number of them being weeded out over past run-ins with the law or financial issues, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The department has to hire about 350 officers a year to account for attrition and officials worry they could be understaffed for years if the current trend continues, according to the Associated Press.
Attrition means fewer police officers available for patrol work and other duties.
LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO fewer people are also applying for patrol officer positions, which means the city could fall short of the 10,000-officer benchmark set by Chief Charlie Beck.
“The problem is as those numbers dip lower, we’re not able to fill those police cars out in the field, our response times start to creep up a little bit, we’ll have less time to attack those crime problems…in some of our neighborhoods,” Smith said.
A combination of factors could be at play, according to Smith, including less visibility of ongoing LAPD hiring among the public, a dip in entry-level pay as a result of budget negotiations with the city, and a rise in the number of applicants with disqualifying background issues.
In January, Beck and then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa touted the LAPD’s refusal to back off on hiring and increasing the size of the police force as key factors in a drop in property and violent crime for the 10th consecutive year.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)