Updated at the bottom with the police union's unhappy response.

The LAPD SWAT team, gang cops and narcotics teams could be disbanded as a result of money problems in the city of L.A. unless the police union makes concessions, department Chief Charlie Beck announced overnight.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League's board of directors was meeting as we speak and was formulating a response to Beck's threat that should be released this afternoon, the Weekly was told.

At the heart of the matter: Overtime, or limits on it because a tighter budget for the fiscal year that begins in July.

Under this year's deal officers can accrue 400 hours of overtime. But under the new budget that will go down to 96 before they're cut off and told just to stop working extra hours.

That's bad for policing the streets.

But the union can extend the 400 hour limit if it agrees to other cuts. The LAPPL might not be happy with that deal, as the LAPD is already facing $80 million in overtime reductions and another $41 million less for cops' retirement benefits (officers are being asked to pitch in to make up the difference).

In a statement released last night, Beck said:

I am obligated to make plans for changes that I do not necessarily want to make. At this point, it is only my intention to prepare you for what lies ahead, if we are faced with the situation where forced time off must be taken at a lower threshold for our sworn personnel. I will have no other option but to reassign personnel from specialized commands to patrol assignments, effective July 18, 2011 …

Update: Saying it is “not going to sit” for this, the LAPPL issued an angry response, arguing that the city has not bargained in good faith on the matter and that it has already broken a previous promise not to reneg on a 400-hours-of-overtime per-cop deal.

The union states that the city “already has 540 fewer officers working because of forced time off. Another 154 are filling critical civilian positions, and at least 60 more officers are working at the Metropolitan Detention Center to fill in for detention officers the City refuses to hire.”

It states that ” … it is actions like these that are in direct conflict with City leaders' stated positions that public safety is their top priority.”

LAPPL President Paul M. Weber:

With just 20 days to go before the new city budget takes effect, the LAPD is threatening to take measures to plug the gap that put the public at risk and show a total disregard for long-established collective bargaining principles. We are not going to sit by and allow our membership to be scapegoats for the failure of City leaders to adequately fund public safety in the budget process. The League has consistently shown its willingness to bargain in good faith. By passing the buck from the City Council to the Mayor to the Chief of Police, City leaders have shown a lack of commitment to public safety and needlessly created this situation.

In a letter to the chief, however, Weber said disruptions in staffing of the type described by Beck “can be avoided” if the two sides can come to an agreement before June 30.

First posted at 11:52 a.m. on Thursday, June 9.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

LA Weekly