Dark clouds are gathering over Los Angeles. Violent crime is up. Thousands of dangerous felons could soon flood the area after state voters passed Proposition 47 last week. LAPD officer morale is low and sinking even further due to the City’s woefully inadequate and indeed insulting contract offers. And where, you ask, is Mayor Eric Garcetti? He is leaving L.A. on Saturday on a 12-day junket to Asia – further proof that public safety is way down on his list of priorities.
A quick look at last weekend’s news headlines underscores the increased dangers our brave officers are facing every day on the City’s increasingly violent streets. On Saturday night, an assault suspect repeatedly fired at police who began pursuing him in East Los Angeles. The next afternoon, officers were threatened by a knife-wielding man on Victory Boulevard and Haskell Avenue in the San Fernando Valley. In other weekend incidents, a woman was shot and killed when a gunman fired multiple rounds into a car in downtown Los Angeles, a car-to-car shooting left a man dead in South Los Angeles, an Army veteran was shot and killed in Sylmar and a group of men attacked a 69-year-old woman in Hancock Park in broad daylight, holding her down while cutting her Rolex watch off her wrist. This might sound like a crime roundup for Chicago, but it’s happening right here.
Unfortunately, incidents such as these are not aberrations.
Violent crime has leaped 9 percent this year compared with the same period in 2013. Homicides are up 4.5 percent, reported rapes 12 percent and aggravated assaults an astonishing 20 percent.
Things are likely to get worse when Prop 47’s hidden provisions are unleashed onto an unsuspecting city. Felons with prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon and many other serious crimes are eligible for early release.
But instead of recognizing the outstanding work LAPD officers have been doing amid increased threats to public safety, the City presented a regressive contract offer that forced the LAPPL to declare impasse in the contract negotiations. There is already demonstrable evidence that the City’s refusal to address this issue is affecting morale and the Department’s ability to retain highly-skilled officers. Officer attrition, of course, negatively affects public safety – we just have to look north to San Jose as a case in point.
The mayor has made it clear he’s happy to spend taxpayer money – just not on police. He was more than willing to shell out $170,000 to subsidize Live Nation’s two-day downtown music festival over the Labor Day weekend. And he’s aggressively pursuing a $1 billion federal plan to restore a few miles of the Los Angeles River. It’s folly to think the City’s share of the cost won’t amount to millions, at least.
We’re certainly not against public entertainment or beautification projects. But a true leader must have priorities – and the top priority must be public safety. Our message is clear. Step up, Mr. Mayor. Take responsibility and lead this City.
A good start when he returns to L.A. would be to take care of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect its residents, instead of nickel-and-diming them.
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