You can't just erase a $300-million-plus deficit and think there won't be consequences. The mayor and members of the City Council were so pleased with themselves for balancing next year's budget, but part of the package calls for police overtime reductions of $100 million. Actually, the cops haven't been getting OT during the current fiscal year. As explained by the LAT:
In lieu of cash, police and union officials negotiated a deal in which officers are forced to take time off when they accrue 400 hours of overtime work. To make sure no officer reaches that trigger point, the department's new policy requires officers to stop working temporarily when they bank about 250 hours of extra work. Under the previous overtime rules, officers received cash once they accrued 96 hours of overtime. The overtime agreement, however, expires on June 31. If the Los Angeles Police Protective League and city cannot reach an agreement on a new contract or the union refuses to grant an extension on the overtime policy while negotiations continue, the LAPD's overtime rules would revert back to the 96-hour cap.
Police Chief Charlie Beck warns that lowering the cap would seriously undermine the department's ability to adequately staff police stations. With no agreement, Beck has to make adjustments.
To fill some of the inevitable staffing holes, Beck said he is planning to reassign officers from the department's specialized units to regular patrol duties. He did not specify which of the LAPD's many specialized units, which include vice, gang and narcotics, would be targeted. The reassignment plan being drawn up by police officials calls for about 200 officers to be sent back to patrol -- a number that officials acknowledged is insufficient to cover all the staffing gaps that would be created as overtime totals mount.
Just to be clear, a lot of what's happening is the result of L.A.'s public pension systems being severely underfunded. When that happens, the city is obligated to make up the shortfall through the general fund. That's the same general fund that funds the police department. Zero-sum game, folks - unexpected spending in one area involves cuts in another, and city officials have not faced up to the inevitable fallout.