Koretz questions motive behind plan to move city security guards to LAPD

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One member of the Los Angeles City Council is questioning plans to move the city's security guards into the Los Angeles Police Department. Councilman Paul Koretz believes the motivation for the plan is to increase LAPD's ranks to 10,000 sworn officers.

A proposal to move the city's security guards into the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department is nothing more than Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s attempt to reach the threshold of 10,000 police officers, one member of the Los Angeles City Council said today.

The criticism from Councilman Paul Koretz came as the Budget and Finance Committee combed through the LAPD’s budget for fiscal year 2012-13. In addition to consolidating the Office of Public Safety within the police department, the spending plan calls for 159 civilian employees to be laid off.

“Honestly, I think it’s being done for one reason and that is by consolidation you add members of the LAPD, so you can say you have 10,000 officers,” Koretz said. “I don’t know why the mayor is fixated on that … I believe that’s what’s driving this change.”

Under the plan, 37 security officers, who patrol city buildings, parks and libraries, would become sworn LAPD police officers. Adding those to the 9,963 sworn officers already in the police department would bring LAPD to 10,000 sworn officers – a threshold Villaraigosa has long sought to achieve. However, LAPD would cancel the Police Academy’s July class of recruits, ultimately keeping the sworn rank at its current level.

The remaining security guards would become part of the Security Services Division. The move is expected to save the city $2.2 million, according to the city administrative officer, though council members have questioned that figure.

Chief Charlie Beck said combining the two security forces would make law enforcement more efficient.

“It’s nonsensical to have multiple city departments with similar missions and not the same command,” Beck said.

The budget also calls for 159 civilian employees to be laid off. These include clerks, administrative staff, a security guard and a nutritionist.

“This will impact service, not only internally but also to the public,” Beck said.

The LAPD’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012-13 is $1.167 billion.

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