Just weeks after Los Angeles police officers rejected a one-year contract with the city, hundreds of off-duty cops packed into City Hall Tuesday to call for a new agreement that includes pay raises.
An estimated 200 officers in white T-shirts provided by the Los Angeles Police Protective League attended the city council's first meeting following the summer recess. During 40 minutes of testimony, officers said the Los Angeles Police Department is losing cops to other departments that offer better pay and benefits.
"Our membership's vote to reject the city's contract is clear evidence that morale is down. There's a deep-seated frustration and anger among the rank-and-file due to their low pay, a disciplinary system that is viewed as biased and unfair, and their belief that management is not receptive to their concerns," said LAPPL President Tyler Izen.
Rejection of the contract came after five months of negotiations with the city. The proposed deal would have provided $70 million for overtime and a pay bump for officers hired at lower salaries during the recession. The deal did not include cost-of-living adjustments or raises.
"The lack of a raise was a slap in the face because there was not even an attempt to bring us up to the pay levels of the 14 other Southern California law enforcement agencies whose pay is higher than ours," Izen said.
Because the officers testified during the public comment portion of the meeting, members of the L.A. City Council were not allowed to respond to their concerns. After the meeting, Councilman Mitch Englander, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said city negotiators need to balance the officers' concerns with the city's financial reality.
"Hopefully as we grow out of this recession we can make sure that we start putting some of that money back into their pockets," Englander said.
A spokesman for the Mayor's Office said the two sides are talking, though there's no timeline to reach a new agreement.