Villaraigosa OKs deal to borrow money to get more LAPD officers on patrol

Rick Orlov
LA Daily News
Feb 16, 2011

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday approved a deal that will temporarily free up 27 LAPD officers for patrol duties using money borrowed from a improvement fund designated for neighborhoods around the Sunshine Canyon Landfill.

The plan devised by City Councilman Greig Smith allows the city to transfer $639,706 from the Sunshine Canyon Landfill Community Amenities Fund to the Los Angeles Police Department. The agency will use the money to keep civilian jailers on the job at the Metropolitan Detention Center so that sworn officers don't have to take over their duties.

The deal calls for the interest-free loan to be repaid within two years.

With police and detention officers and city officials standing with him at Parker Center, the former LAPD headquarters located next to the new jail, Villaraigosa praised Smith for making the loan available. However, he acknowledged it is a temporary fix that will provide enough money only through June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

"After July 1?" Villaraigosa said. "After July 1, we go back to make the hard decisions. We will be working with the City Council, with the unions to find a solution."

The Sunshine Canyon fund helps mitigate impacts for residents of Granada Hills and Sylmar who live near the landfill. In the past, it has paid for buy land for open space and to improve local athletic fields.

City officials said the $639,706 had not been allocated to specific projects.

The money will allow Police Chief Charlie Beck to free up 27 of the 83 police officers - including his son - who have been assigned to work as jailers while civilian detention workers are on furlough.

Villaraigosa said the loan demonstrated the city's commitment to finding solutions to its budget problems.

"We have a $50 million problem this year and a $350 million shortfall to deal with next year," Villaraigosa said. "And that's on top of $1 billion we have cut over the past two years."

Smith said he also has been calling members of the Community Advisory Committee overseeing the landfill fund to apologize for not advising them of his plan in advance.

"It was simply a case of not having time to call them," Smith said. "The important thing is that this is money that will be repaid and returned to the Granada Hills community."