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The downturn in the economy has offered an upside for the LAPD as it tries to meet Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s goal of achieving a 10,000-officer force by the fall. The department, which now has nearly 9,800 officers, has been hiring about 60 a month, more than making up for losses to retirement and attrition, Cmdr. Jim Cansler said.

The surge in applications is due to LAPD’s advertising message that describes crime-fighting as one of the few recession-proof careers: “During these times of economic uncertainty, the LAPD is always looking for a few good women and men to protect and to serve our communities. Never have to face a layoff again! Start your new career today!”

The spike in interest, from 401 people taking the applicants’ written test in December 2007 to 870 a year later, followed months of sharp but less eye-popping increases, recruiters said.

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