Amid plummeting retention rates and soaring crime, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted to allocate nearly $1 billion for cops' pay to stop them from quitting—just three years after it slashed the police budget by up to $150 million.
The council, made up of 14 Democrats and one independent, agreed to boost police recruits’ pay by 13 percent, while adding annual "retention" pay increases to keep them on the force. The pay rise will cost the city $994 million over the next four years, according to a representative for the police union.
The 12-3 vote is a pendulum swing for the progressive city that only three years prior voted to "defund" the police. In June 2020, the city council voted to slash the law enforcement budget by up to $150 million in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Six months after these budget cuts, the Los Angeles Police Department announced that officers would no longer respond to car crashes and would shrink its robbery and homicide and gang and narcotics divisions. The department also stopped staffing its station desks on weekends.
Since then, crime is up and the police force has dipped below 9,000 officers for the first time in more than 20 years.
Los Angeles, like other blue cities, has reeled under a crime surge since 2020. While violent crime dipped in 2023 compared to the year before, murders and assaults are up. The county’s progressive district attorney George Gascón is sitting on a 10,000-case backlog.
In May, the county reinstated a zero-bail policy for anyone charged with nonviolent felonies, leading the rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson to declare that "L.A. is finished." Since then, "flash mobs" of dozens of young people have taken to ransacking luxury stores all over Los Angeles County, overwhelming staff through brute force and making off with merchandise worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) has deployed more California Highway Patrol to Los Angeles as backup.