Plan to move security guards to LAPD receives preliminary approval

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Photo by jondoeforty1 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a plan to consolidate General Services security officers into the Los Angeles Police Department.

A plan to move the city’s security guards into the Los Angeles Police Department was preliminarily approved today despite lingering questions about cost savings and responsibilities.

The proposal to consolidate the General Services’ Office of Public Safety with the LAPD is part of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s budget for fiscal year 2012-13, which starts on July 1. The city’s top budget official, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, has said the move will save the city $2.2 million, but members of the Public Safety Committee disputed that figure.

“There are a lot of costs that are not identified yet,” said Councilman Mitch Englander, chair of the committee. “It was identified that the police department, LAPD, says they can absorb all of the costs related to this consolidation, and I don’t know that all of the costs have been identified.”

The LAPD is budgeted for 9,963 sworn police officers. An estimated 37 General Services security guards would transfer into LAPD as sworn officers. To keep the department at 9,963 officers, LAPD will cancel its July class at the Police Academy. Another 97 security guards are expected to transfer into a newly created arm of the department, called the Security Services Division.

Labor groups, who accused the mayor of going through the back door to reach his goal of 10,000 sworn police officers, do not support the plan. Representatives with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions and General Services Police Officers Association complained that the duties of sworn officers do not coincide with those of security guards who patrol city buildings, the Los Angeles Zoo, libraries and parks.

“Let’s slow down, let’s take our time, let’s do it right,” said Donald Taylor, vice president of the General Services Police Officers Association.

If the plan is ultimately approved by the Los Angeles City Council, the transition would begin on July 1.

The plan comes at a time when the city is considering whether to lay off 159 of the LAPD’s clerks and administrators.

The plan will be vetted by the Budget and Finance Committee, which begins budget hearings this afternoon at City Hall.

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