The union representing Los Angeles police announced that four department property rooms would begin shutting down Friday as a cost-cutting measure. The news comes as the Los Angeles Police Protective League states that cuts in civilian staffing at the department mask the City Council's claim that, despite L.A.'s budget crisis, the number of officers on the streets will be maintained.

In fact, the union argues, the number of badges patrolling neighborhoods is down about 200 a day as officers fill in for civilians who have lost their jobs as a result of measures such as the property room closures.

“Make no mistake about it; shutting down the four property rooms will adversely affect police services,” said Paul M. Weber, President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

The shuttered rooms include those at the Newton, Wilshire, West Valley and North Hollywood divisions. The union argues that police will have to spend more time tracking down evidence. The move will “force officers to drive to other police stations to book and retrieve property,” Weber said.

It's another example, the union states, of how civilian cuts are taking badges off the streets despite the City Council's recent passage of a budget that would maintain officer-staffing levels at the Los Angeles Police Department. Weber suggests that the council was being disingenuous in its boast that the LAPD would be protected from cuts.

“Elected officials have been using the total number of officers employed by the LAPD as a smokescreen to hide the severe cuts that have already been made in vital areas,” said Weber. “The number of officers deployed has actually been drastically impacted by budget cuts. Over 200 sworn officers are being pulled off patrol and other law enforcement duties daily to fill in for civilian support personnel, whose jobs have been chopped by some 25 percent. This is the equivalent of 60 patrol cars. In addition, officers whose duties lead them to work overtime are being forced to stay home once they accrue 250 hours, as the city has chosen to reduce both patrol and detective ranks rather than pay overtime to have a fully staffed force.”

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