Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday that if the current budget cuts continue through the next fiscal year, overtime and hiring constraints will cause the equivalent of 600 less officers to be on the streets.

“If things go as they did last year in terms of overtime, then at the end of the next fiscal year, we will have less personnel hours that are the equivalent of 600 cops,” Beck said. As it is, Beck told reporters, there has been a seven- to eight-percent reduction in the number of officers on patrol as a result of current cutbacks on overtime.

The chief said that 10 percent of the department's workforce might have to take a furlough day in summer as an additional cost-saving measure. The city is dealing with a $212 deficit and another $485 million in red ink expected to hit L.A. in July. Public safety services take up more than 70 percent of the city's general fund spending.

The department is funded for slightly less than 10,000 officers and has worked to cut crime even as it has nearly one forth the number of cops as New York. However, the state has initiated a “parole reform” program that will likely see thousands of new ex-cons on the streets, and a federal judge has ordered California to let out 40,000 prisoners to relieve overcrowding.

Now's not really the time to have less officers in Los Angeles.

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