LAPD is hemorrhaging officers. Can it retain and hire more?

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Marcelle Hutchins

LAPD officers guard Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood following an officer-involved shooting, April 24, 2021. Photo by Shutterstock.

LA Mayor Karen Bass unveiled her first city budget on Tuesday. It includes $1.9 billion for the city’s police department. This comes as the LAPD faces a hiring and retention crisis — the department says it has lost 1,000 officers over the last four years. Bass wants to return the police force to its authorized size of about 9,500 officers, but that won’t be easy as hundreds of officers are expected to retire or resign this year. 

Some of these retirees are part of the LAPD’s DROP program (Deferred Retirement Option Plan), says Cheryl Dorsey, retired LAPD sergeant and author of “Black and Blue: The Creation of a Social Advocate.” 

The voluntary plan enables officers who reach retirement age to continue to work for five years — and receive regular pay — while banking pension checks. 

Dorsey says DROP participants are usually officers with coveted work assignments. “You're somewhere indoors, working a very cushy job. … You're not going to find the officer who's reached maturity and the ability to retire still running through the houses eastbound chasing suspects over fences. That's not who sticks around for another five years.” 

To attract new workers, Bass plans to offer recruits a $15,000 bonus, but it’s unclear whether that would work. Dorsey points to the Memphis Police Department, which recently offered a similar signing bonus, but did not receive quality candidates.

In the past, Dorsey says the department has faced situations where candidates sign up, receive their bonus, and then only stay with the LAPD for a limited amount of time. 

“Folks would come on, get that good LAPD training, and then go to another agency who wants the benefit of having an LAPD-trained officer. Because after all, we are one of the best trained, right? So how do you keep them? Well, that's the question.”

Dorsey says communities of color also don’t have much trust in the department. “There's a lack of accountability for errant police officers who are engaging in police misconduct, who are using deadly force as a first resort rather than a last resort, who are failing to de-escalate situations that wind up in a use of force and or death.” 



  • Cheryl Dorsey - retired LAPD Sergeant (1980-2000) and the author of “Black and Blue: The Creation of a Social Advocate”