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LAPD force grows to record levels

March 2, 2009 | 10:51 am

Bratton The timing might be suspicious, but that didn't stop LAPD Chief William J. Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa from picking the day before the election to announce strides in hiring of LAPD officers.

Bratton and the mayor have made boosting the police force to 10,000 a big goal -- and the LAPD says it has hit 9,895 -- a new record. It's unclear when the LAPD hit the milestone, but it's clear Villaraigosa would like to use the news as part of his bid for second term.

It also remains unclear whether the hiring spree will continue, given the bad economic situation and swelling city budget deficit, which could reach $1 billion. Mayor Richard Riordan tried for 10,000 officers but never made the goal.

The city is paying for the extra officers with money from the trash tax. The enlarged force comes at a time when crime has been dropping significantly across the city.

The Sheriff's Department now has 9,700 deputies but is hoping to have 10,000 by year's end, according to spokesman Steve Whitmore.

-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton