In this Great Recession, with unemployment in Los Angeles County at nearly 13 of every 100 people, you'd think that folks would be murdering each other to get at the head of the line for a gig as an LAPD officer.

You'd be wrong.

For whatever reason — bad press, a new chief, increased regulations on what they can and can't do — the number of people applying to become part of L.A.'s finest decreased by 30 percent last year versus the year before, according to La Opinion (Google translate).

Only 9,232 people applied for LAPD badges last year compared to 13,202 the year before. In both cases there are nearly enough applicants to replace the entire force.

But why the drop off? In these times? Has the LAPD luster polished by the P.R. king William Bratton faded? Is working the mean streets and increasingly getting shot at not worth the pay?

Police say hiring and recruitment efforts are down as a result of the budget, thus possibly discouraging young men and women from taking the test.

“There are fewer people doing the testing, but we probably have 4,000 applications still in the process (intake), if not more,” Joseph A. Mariani , LAPD's captain for recruitment and employment, told La Opinion.

The department still has up to 300 jobs to fill. That's 160 percent less than last year. But it's still 300 openings in a city where gigs are few and applicants many. On top of that, officers make $45,226 to start; $48,880 if they have four-year degrees.

“The interest is there,” Mariani insists.

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