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LAPD gets federal stimulus money to hire 50 officers

July 28, 2009 |  3:13 pm

The city of Los Angeles was awarded a $16.3-million, three-year grant today for 50 new police officers as part of the nation’s federal economic stimulus package.

But city officials had hoped to be able to hire up to 450 officers through the program to help flesh out the city’s police force. While Los Angeles fared well compared with other state municipalities -- only San Francisco and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department were allocated that many officers -- smaller cities such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Nashville, Milwaukee and San Antonio also received funding for 50 officers.

Vice President Joe Biden announced the $1 billion in grants for the Justice Department’s COPS Hiring Recovery Program with the aim of creating or preserving 4,699 law enforcement positions across the country under this year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Justice Department was flooded with applications for $8.3 billion in grants and 39,000 officers -- leading the agency to cap the number of officers awarded to individual agencies.

At the time L.A. officials applied for the grant they did not know that federal officials were going to institute a cap of no more than 50 officers per city or the equivalent of 5% of the city's existing police force.

In a terse statement, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said: “The city of Los Angeles is grateful for the federal government’s support of our effort to grow the Los Angeles Police Department.”

Villaraigosa has long pledged to expand the LAPD by 1,000 officers and set a goal for the force to reach the 10,000-member threshold by 2009. Officials in his office said the city is close to that target. LAPD lists current sworn enrollment at 9,977.

When they approved the budget earlier this year, City Council members found enough money to fill police positions vacated by attrition, but they do not have money to hire additional officers.

-- Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall