Friday, April 16, 2010

LA Police Ordered to Stay Home to Save Money

The homicide rate in Los Angeles is on the rise. According to the Los Angeles Times the homicide rate as of April 6, 2010 was up 5-percent from the same time last year. More than a third of all homicides occurred within the last 4 weeks.

Homicide can ebb and flow over the course of a year. However, there appears to be a potentially more ominous reason for the increase. Just as New York City is experiencing an up-tick in murder, both cities are also dealing with declining resources.

The Times reported, there is little money available to pay officers overtime. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has instituted a policy requiring police officers to take time off as compensation instead of overtime. The result has been a significant decrease in the number of officers available for duty.

The Times reported, in lieu of overtime, the police department implemented a strict policy of forcing police detectives to take time off when they accrue large amounts of overtime hours. Because of demanding work schedules that routinely require them to investigate a case into the night or through the weekend, homicide detectives have been among the first officers to be sent home in significant numbers.

The drain on homicide squads has hampered investigations. Detectives told the Times their investigations are frequently put on hold while they take days off, delaying witness interviews and other potentially important leads.

Last year, officers decided to take about 17,000 hours off each month in compensation for overtime, according to the Times. This past March, that number soared to nearly 60,000 hours. The increase in lost work hours was the equivalent to removing about 290 officers from the department roster.

The LA overtime formula appears to be a recipe for disaster. With the state reeling from a budget crisis and facing a Court Order to release more state inmates, LA, and all of California, are facing the real prospect of increasing crime and the related costs of victimization.

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