Chief, mayor tout 40-year-low murder rate

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The mayor and police chief argued Tuesday that it is imperative for the Los Angeles Police Department to remain around the 10,000-officer level despite an ongoing budget crisis, saying the size of the force contributed to a record decline in the city’s homicide rate last year.

Some council members recently questioned the need to maintain 9,963 police officers — a number set by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — when other city departments have been forced to drastically shrink in size through early retirements and layoffs.

Police Chief Charlie Beck responded that “public safety is the cornerstone of government. If this is not a safe city, then this is not a city that can deliver services or support human growth.”

He said the fact that there were 297 homicides in 2010 — the fewest since 281 homicides were recorded in 1967 — proved that the LAPD is “finally become big enough to do its job.”

The city had about 6.6 homicides per 100,000 people in 2010, the lowest per capita rate since 1964.

“When picking where to spend public money, you need to understand what are public priorities,” Beck said.

He said “297 homicides is way too many, but let me put that in perspective to you: the last chief of police that got that homicide rate is Bill Parker. It was 1964, and his mayor was Sam Yorty. That’s how long ago you have to go back in the history of this city to find this level of homicide…It’s because this city has decided to invest in public safety — that’s made
the difference.”

He added that his goal was to reduce gang homicides by another 50 percent.

But Councilman Bernard Parks, a former LAPD chief himself and current chairman of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said the city is not living within its means.

Parks told City News Service that the city will spend $1 billion of its $4 billion budget on pension and medical costs in the upcoming fiscal year. Of the remaining $3 billion, 70 percent will go to the Police and Fire departments, leaving all other departments to share the remaining 30 percent.

“Once July 1 arrives, it’s going to come to everyone’s attention that the city’s workforce in general is too large,” Parks said. “When you begin to look at what you’re spending on police and fire, compared to the rest of the city, you then have to make a decision how many more cuts are you willing to make in every other department to keep this mythical 9,963 (police officers).”

But Villaraigosa said he was not interested in shrinking the LAPD.

“People often say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the mayor said. “Well, the LAPD isn’t broken, and it doesn’t need fixing to the extent that we are providing the resources that they need.

“I would submit to you that as we begin budget deliberations — we’re looking at a $360 million deficit in the coming year — our commitment to maintain the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department at least at attrition levels today will go a long way to ensuring that we’ll continue our efforts to draw down crime in the city of Los Angeles.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (11)
  1. Gee says:

    LAPD as very little to do with homcides and crime being down. It has more to do with people finally educated themselves and learning to avoid trouble.

    On the other hand i am very unconviced about the stats LAPD provides. Crimes seems to happen police alot times are dicouraging you to file a report.

  2. Richard in Castaic says:

    The LAPD is the city’s profit center, they’re extremely profitable. More police = more money for the city. A single traffic cop grosses over $6000 a day.

  3. Mikeym says:

    These guys retire at 50 and spike their pensions to boot. A lot of them take a medical retirement and make out big time. Brown made promises to the police dept. for their support during the election campaign. So much for being truthfull eh Brown.

    1. damon says:

      I hate to break it to you but that was Meg who got the nod from the LAPD.

  4. 2958 says:

    Police are a ATM for the city!!!!!!! Get ticket go pay ticket they add all these fees ticket triples, what a bunch of crooks!!!!

  5. cheryl says:

    Many of the “usual suspects” have moved out of L.A. The murders are just occurring someplace else.

    Mikeym, you sound a little jealous. Too bad you couldn’t pass the background investigation.

  6. Jason says:

    Funny how the police department is out there generating revenue from all of these law-abiding citizens. Guess they are just forcing you to speed, drive unsafely, or break other laws? If you don’t want to pay a ticket, don’t violate the law!

  7. Two Cents says:

    They won’t cut the officers, but they’ll furlough the civilian support staff and then use the officers to backfill into those spots…furloughs are already being imposed on the jailers, 911 operators, etc., and they are planning on more. Now, tell me, what good does it do to have this holy-grail number of officers on the payroll if they are filling administrative spots, and there are barely enough 911 operators to answer the calls to send the ones that are still out there…

  8. Jason says:

    Very good points… and the sad thing is, they are paying the officers more while they are filling those spots than the people they laid off were making.

  9. Rod Venger says:

    What you see in Los Angeles is NOT professionalism, but the result of L.A.P.D’s “Special Order 40”, which forbids officers from inquiring about the immigration status of people they contact. This is supposedly a pragmatic crime fighting tool, where the rationale is that illegals will be unwilling to cooperate with police in other investigations if they fear that they themselves might be targeted. LAPD has for years, since 1979 to be exact, considered illegals to be the lesser of many evils when it comes to criminal behavior, selectively not enforcing the law. Part of the damage being done by this policy is LA County’s $600 Million expenditure in 2010 for welfare payments to the children of illegals. If LAPD is going to continue to abide by Special Order 40, perhaps that $600 million should come out of it own budget, which is $4 Billion for FY 2011. LAPD should be willing to pay for it’s policies out of it’s own pockets, yes?

  10. Draimanformayor Losangeles says:

    Politicians should be paid commissions only – performance based compensation R1

    I say that politicians should be paid – compensated on a performance based via commissions only, for example on every tax dollar that they save. Example, if a politician cuts government spending 1 Million dollars, the tax payers would pay him X% of 1 Million.
    If it hits them in the pocket, they are going to be much more cautious how they spend our money.
    A politician running for office should reimburse any matching funds after the election.
    A politician should run the country like any non-profit corporation, with checks and balances, fiscal responsibility and not committing funds that our great grandchildren would have to pay.
    Any politician who violates the oath of office will lose his job and forfeit his benefits and pension.
    It is time we should hold our politicians accountable for their deeds and behavior, any deviation from honesty and ethics will be punished severely.

    Honesty, integrity and accountability is the motto.

    YJ Draiman, Energy/Utility Auditor

    Draiman is a candidate for the Mayor of Los Angeles

    We should not rush to give our money to foreign countries, if we do give, it is a loan and must be repaid; the loans should also be collateralized with real estate and assets of the receiving country.

    Value-based Management of the Government
    Value-based management makes an explicit link between a government’s strategic and operating decisions and their impact on the country and its citizen’s benefits. It does so in part by aligning politicians incentives with citizens’ interests.

    Politicians should earn the public trust, which, in turn, is based on openness and accountability. Excessive compensation, self-dealing and hidden agenda’s are detrimental to earning public trust.

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