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Jan 2011
Public safety: Government’s top obligation

As City leaders consider the consequences of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, it behooves them to remember that government’s top obligation is public safety; their actions should reflect that.

Recent gains in public safety have not been accidental. The Mayor and the Chief of Police correctly credited historic lows in crime to years of dedicated work by LAPD officers and adequate public safety funding.

But some people mistakenly believe we can hold on to these gains while “policing on the cheap.” That’s why it’s important to recognize some of the early negative effects of this approach. Keeping detectives at home to preclude overtime pay is bringing down the homicide clearance rate. Leaving these crimes unsolved until the budget allows a detective to work the case is bad news for everyone except the suspect.

LA Daily News recently published one of the best commentaries on the matter. Their lead editorial rightly reasoned that public safety budgets must come first: “Angelenos can adjust in the short term to many reductions in city services,” the editorial argued. “When the economy improves, the city can recover quickly from shortened library hours, from a delay in pothole repair and from parks gone raggedy. The city can't, however, rebound easily if criminals once again feel comfortable victimizing people in Los Angeles. And the public should never again have to adjust to living in the murder capital of the U.S.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. City officials need to take the Daily News’ admonition to heart: Keep public safety first.

Is the City forgetting its top priority?



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