The Los Angeles Police Department would see a modest gain in sworn officers under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's city budget that would also slash civilian personnel at the department.

The gain in officers would be achieved by eliminating the Los Angeles General Services Police Department and merging that agency's qualified officers with the LAPD. Villaraigosa's 2012-13 budget, which is designed to close a $238 million deficit, would also eliminate 159 civilian LAPD positions such as typists, secretaries, and other administrative staff.

"The citizens of Los Angeles have mandated that public safety is the highest priority," Lt. Andy Neiman told POLICE Magazine. "If you lay off police officers, you impact public safety. If you lay off civilians, you impact services ... We should be able to maintain the level of service in the field."

Qualified members of the agency's 113 police officers and 300 security officers could join the LAPD as sworn personnel. The department estimates that 40-45 of those officers would be qualified. Others could complete modified courses for eligibility, said Lt. Neiman.

The LAPD would then assume the agency's duties. The LAGSPD provides security police and security guard services for 400 parks, 72 libraries, and 900 municipal buildings.

"The whole concept is to make the city more efficient in terms of policing," Lt. Neiman said. "Instead of having four agencies, now we're down to three."

In Los Angeles, separate law enforcement agencies also patrol the Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport. Earlier budgets have proposed merging these agencies with the LAPD.

Police officers hired by the LAGSPD get the same training as LAPD patrol officers, because they must complete 28 weeks of training on firearms, driving, physical agility, and legal principles.

Read Mayor Villaraigosa's budget press release here.

By Paul Clinton