LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A tumbling crime rate in Los Angeles should not be a signal to trim the police department’s budget, city officials said Thursday.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports both the mayor and the chief of police are opposed to any cuts to the LAPD.

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After a steady decline over the last 9 years, crime continued to dip in 2011, with violent crime down over 7 percent and gang crime down over 15 percent.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said those numbers prove the city is safer than anytime since 1952.

But despite a police force of over 10,000 officers and marked increases in overtime pay, both Villaraigosa and Chief Charlie Beck warned any reductions would result in a higher crime rate.

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“Police matter, cops count, it’s the truth, and it’s proven maybe better than anyplace else by what they experienced in Los Angeles,” said Beck.

Amid expansions to the LAPD, the city has permitted officers to bank more overtime than in the past: by mid-November of 2011, they were owed $78 million in overtime, nearly double the amount in 2009.

Even Beck acknowledged that the department could be facing some political headwinds in the months ahead.

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“I’m a realist, I exist in the world around me, and I recognize that the city is not going to be able to fund more police officers,” he said.