In any business, a budget determines how a company’s objectives are to be met over the course of the fiscal year. Although as a law enforcement agency we do not generate revenue or profits, we are no different: the budget is the bottom line, and is, therefore, the guide for strategizing the coming year of police work. In late May, the City Council approved the Department’s 2007-2008 annual budget, which contains a total increase of more than $52 million dollars. Within the new budget are some significant and favorable changes that I want to share with you. It’s going to be a very tough budget year in the City, but we got much of what we were looking for.
Vehicles are vital to the work we do, and many of ours have met or exceeded the replacement criteria in the past year. In the new budget, we have successfully added funding- a total of more than $4.5 million dollars- in order to deliver 426 vehicles and 22 motorcycles in the next fiscal year. The replacement vehicles will include 92 black and whites, 40 hybrids, 210 plain vehicles, 66 undercover vehicles and 18 specialty vehicles. We also have a new helicopter on its way.
City Council has added $1.3 million dollars to the budget, specifically for the purchase of tasers. As I mentioned in my message to you last month, we are continuing the field testing of a new and improved taser, the X-26. The budget increase will allow for the purchase of up to 1,250 of these X-26 tasers in the new fiscal year.
The new budget will allow us to beef up our staff in Scientific Investigation Division, an area of increasing importance and in growing demand in this modern era of policing. We will add 19 positions in SID, including 12 in the DNA Unit, 6 in Firearms Analysis Unit and 1 in the warehouse of the new Regional Crime Lab. Three of the positions added to Firearms Analysis Unit will allow the Department to redeploy three Police Officers to field activities. Additional funding has been added for DNA analysis equipment and for other technical equipment for the Firearms Analysis, Photography and Latent Prints units. The overall effect of these additions and upgrades will be a more state-of-the-art and efficient operation than ever before in the history of the Department.
The Cold Case Unit, whose successes are oftentimes very dependent on the progress made in DNA technologies, as well as the dedicated efforts of our esteemed, departed Commander Jim Tatreau, will add 9 new positions to its staff. This will increase the Department’ s ability to perform follow-up investigations and use forensic techniques that might not have been available at the time of the original investigation. The additional detectives will also assist the Department in responding to the anticipated increase in DNA hits on cold cases caused by the implementation of Proposition 69. As we solve more crimes, we make more arrests. The budget reflects the increased workload demands in Jail Division by adding 20 new Detention Officers.
Recruitment, with the reality of DROP-related attrition upon us, is a top priority for the Department, now more than ever. The proposed signing bonuses that were the focus of much media attention last winter now have financing. Over $1 million has been added to the budget for these signing bonuses. The proposal is that new recruits entering the Academy receive $5,000, half of which will be delivered upon graduation, with the remaining balance due upon completion of probation. Individuals coming to us from other law enforcement agencies would receive a bonus of $10,000, with half being paid upon completion of the Lateral Program and the balance due upon completion of probation. This bonus would be retroactive to June 2006.
The new budget will enable the Department to add a total of 780 officers in the coming fiscal year. This figure represents an addition of 226 officers to the 554 officers that were already budgeted for the coming year. It is an ambitious number, but one that we are on-target to meet, thanks to the
diligent efforts of our Personnel Group. Historically, the Department has been understaffed. We are making a concerted effort to narrow the gap and come closer to more favorable officer to-citizen ratios enjoyed by other big cities.
Staying on the subject of recruitment, there is more good news to share: the Department has surpassed 9,500 officers for the first time in 12 years. Furthermore, we recruited and hired more officers last year than in the previous year and, although we lost approximately 545 officers due to
attrition, we hired 730. The average class size since January 2007 has grown to 65 candidates, which exceeds expectations. We are also successfully recruiting candidates who are more representative of the demographics of Los Angeles. The recruit class of June 2007 consisted of 14% African American, 38% Latino, 9% Asian and 39% Caucasian candidates. The current total sworn population of the Department is more diverse than in recent memory, with a breakdown of 12.4% African American, 38% Latino, 8.1% Asian 40% Caucasian sworn officers. The number of Female Officers has also grown to 18.6%.
The result of all of your hard work is a lot of the news making headlines. We can and should all take pride in the decrease of homicides and crime over the last five years. By the end of May, there had been 43% fewer murders over five years. Aggravated assaults are down 60% over five years. Total Part I crimes are down by almost one third, at 31%. These are historic drops and historic lows. Further encouragement comes from the gangrelated crime statistics, where 9 out of the 11 crime categories have seen mostly double-digit drops over the past 5 years. Gang-related homicide is down by over 51%, with aggravated assault down by 32%.
The Los Angeles Police Department enters this new fiscal year with great momentum, a workable budget, recruitment tools and statistics that will significantly further our goals of a larger, more diverse force, and crime statistics that even our harshest critics have to commend. Behind all of this good news, are the men and women of this Department, Sworn and Civilian. We are a Department made up of extraordinary people whose commitment to excellence and dedication has made a noticeable difference for the people of Los Angeles. My personal congratulations on the great job all are doing.