LAPD In Financial Straights, Cuts New Recruits

The Los Angeles Police Department is facing an $80 million deficit and seems poised to cancel its January class of academy recruits. If the City Council's public safety and personnel committees confirm the move next week, it would mean a third month of hiring freezes for cops just out of training.

New Chief Charlie Beck is none too happy about the prospect. As he met with community members last month he stressed the crucial role that hiring would play in continuing to reduce crime and in meeting new challenges such as the state's upcoming release of 40,000 prisoners.

"Public safety requires a decent number of police officers in order to do it in a way that this city expects and deserves,'' Beck said Monday.

The LAPD's needs are flying in the face of the city's dire budget, which is projected to reach a $400 million deficit. In October, the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agreed that the department should not grow beyond 9,963 officers, even though Beck has said that a 10,000-plus force is something the city needs.

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