The decision by the Los Angeles City Council in 2020 to cut $150 million from the police department budget is coming back to bite them in the form of significant LAPD overtime payments.
Following the death of George Floyd and the social justice protests that swept the country, L.A. decided to reduce the police budget by $150 million – a portion taken from overtime payments – with the promise to funnel that money to social programs.
The following year, LAPD officers worked a total of 680,000 overtime hours that they have yet to be compensated for.
According to city financial analysts, the amount owed to the LAPD for overtime is approximately $47 million – a third of last year’s budget cuts.
Dustin DeRollo, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told the L.A. Times that the overtime cost will likely exceed the budget cut total because the officers will be compensated in the future when their salaries are increased due to pay raises.
Ultimately, taxpayers will have to foot the bill.
“There’s an increased cost to taxpayers, because they’ll be paying out those overtime hours at a higher rate later on,” DeRollo said.
Since the pandemic and resultant officer shortages, officer overtime has “exploded,” according to the L.A. Times. Furthermore, by delaying overtime payments, the city will owe more money to the police and will have less to spend on social programs.
Activist Albert Corado, who called for defunding the police, sees the city council’s actions as a form of theater, since they knew they would eventually end up giving more back to the LAPD.
“I look at it now as theater,” he said. “People were calling for the defunding of the police, and it was theater.”
According to LAPD Police Administrator Thom Brennan, the police department acted responsibly following the budget cuts by keeping overtime to a minimum.
“The department reacted responsibly and reduced overtime hours to minimize the impact as much as possible,” he stated in an email.
DeRollo said that the police were waiting on overtime funds even before the council’s decision to cut police funding. The budget cuts simply deferred those payments further into the future, while also damaging LAPD morale as a result of unpaid labor.
“For some, they might not be able to get compensated for those hours for 20 years,” DeRollo said.
Council President Nury Martinez defended the council’s decision.
“Regardless of any inevitable overtime pay, it’s undeniable that this council has listened and is focused on creating a more equitable city,” she said.