Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to propose merging two of the city’s law enforcement agencies in a cost-cutting move that would also let him fulfill a campaign promise to expand the LAPD to 10,000 officers.
As part of his budget being released Friday, Villaraigosa is proposing to shift the Department of General Services’ Office of Public Safety into the Los Angeles Police Department, according to City Council members familiar with the proposal.
Under the proposal, some or all of the city’s 250 security officers and sworn officers who guard the city’s parks, zoo, and City Hall would move under the command of the LAPD.
City budget chief Miguel Santana is expected to release a report on the costs, advantages, and risks of moving the department to the LAPD next week.
Additionally, the LAPD is doing its own feasibility study on absorbing the department.
“There’s a lot of homework to do before this can occur,” said City Councilman Dennis Zine, adding he has questions about the plan.
For instance, Zine said the OPS and LAPD officers have different salaries and pension plans.
Additionally, he said, some sworn OPS officers may need additional training before they would be qualified to join the LAPD.
Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders said the Mayor’s Office wouldn’t comment on proposals before the budget is released.
The recommendation, which Villaraigosa also proposed in 2010, would help the city plug a $220 million budget deficit for next year. An estimate of expected savings was not available.
It would also allow Villaraigosa to leave office next year having fulfilled a campaign promise to expand the LAPD to 10,000 officers.
The department employs about 9,960 sworn officers and 2,800 civilians.
Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, hadn’t yet been briefed on the details on the plan, but said he’d consider exploring the idea.
“I am absolutely open to anything that will help the city run better,” Izen said.
The proposal would move OPS’s roughly 100 sworn officers and 150 security guards under the command of the LAPD. The sworn officers carry guns and patrol the city’s parks, libraries, and City Hall offices and grounds. The security guards protect the Los Angeles Zoo, Convention Center and other facilities.
Michael Robertson, president of the Los Angeles General Services Police Officers Association, didn’t return a phone call for comment.
The proposal could result in some reduced administrative costs. It’s unclear if any of workers would be laid off under the plan.
On Friday, LAPD spokesman Commander Andy Smith said he’d just submitted his division’s report for the feasibility study on the merger. But he couldn’t predict if the overall proposal would be approved.
“For a long time, people have called for one city, one police department,” he said. “But those decisions are made at the top of the political triangle.”