Mayor Seeks More Police Officers
Concerned that the Los Angeles police department is understaffed in relation to the population it serves, mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for adding more police.
The mayor set a firm goal. He wants to add 220 officers net, after allowing for normal retirements and resignations. (Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2007)
Police chief William J. Bratton noted that aggressive recruiting, including bonus offers, has already drawn 80 more recruits into police academies this fiscal year.
Showing that his call is real, not politics, the mayor proposed the additional officers as part of the budget for the coming fiscal year. The proposal also exemplifies long-term planning and consistency, since Villaraigosa began a five-year plan last year to add 1,000 officers to the police department,
Officials noted that Los Angeles has one of the worst officer-to-resident ratios of any major city, with one officer for every 436 residents, compared with one for every 228 residents in New York City.
If Los Angeles leaders are alarmed when 436 residents are served by one officer, what would they think of Oakland, which provides only one officer for every 555 residents? (400,000 residents divided among 720 officers)
Meanwhile, Oakland mayor Ron Dellums substitutes reorganization for recruiting.
Shame on the leaders at Oakland's City Hall for leaving our city with only half a police department. The example of Los Angeles shows that committed leadership takes seriously the first job of any municipal government – public safety – and gets the job done.
– March 30, 2007
LA Mayor Follows Through on Police Staffing
Releasing his proposed budget, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa followed through on his call to hire more police. The mayor's budget adds 235 officers net in the year starting July 1, 2007, surpassing Los Angeles's previous high mark of 9,852 sworn officers in June 1998.
Police chief William J. Bratton said "The budget is a good news budget ... because it is in fact prioritizing public safety." (Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2007)
As the chart shows, the mayor and chief have a long-range plan, and they account for both hiring and retirements.
Oakland is the reverse of Los Angeles. Although voters approved Measure Y tax increases demanded by the city council in 2004, the City employs fewer police more than two years later. Councilmembers insisted the City would have 802 officers with Measure Y, but this week a police department spokesman told columnist Chip Johnson that "reaching the city's target of 803 officers is at least two years away." (San Francisco Chronicle , April 20, 2007) That's almost five years of Measure Y taxes without the promised officers!
Oakland has no long-term plan to get to the minimum number of 1,100 police needed. Just the opposite, councilmembers and bureaucrats already hope to scale back hiring if and when the City nears 802 officers. This attitude makes recruiting efforts doomed to fail. Potential officers can see they will not be joining a department with enough staff to avoid mandatory overtime. Meanwhile, we suffer continual robberies, beatings, open drug dealing, and "boom car" nuisance from criminals who know they can get away with it.
– April 20, 2007