Saying that Angelenos “don’t feel safe,” Rep. Karen Bass called Tuesday for an increase in Los Angeles Police Department patrol personnel to reach already-authorized levels as part of her campaign for mayor.
Bass’ public safety plan calls for the hiring of civilian personnel to move desk officers to patrol, bringing the department to its authorized force of 9,700. She added that she would also focus on recruitment of officers who are invested in reform and increase the police chief’s and police commission’s accountability around a “shared community safety vision.”
The department’s personnel number stands at 9,521 sworn members, 185 less than the department’s authorized deployment for the fiscal year of 9,706, Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala said Tuesday.
The LAPD is already seeking additional funding in the next fiscal year that would restore staffing levels to 9,800 sworn officers.
Two other candidates for mayor, Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer, have also called for an increase in police personnel as part of their campaigns. Buscaino called for the department to increase its deployment to 11,000 officers, while Feuer called for the LAPD to expand to at least 10,000 officers.
Such moves would fly in the face of many vocal community activists who have called for a vast scaling back of law enforcement nationally in response to much-publicized incidents of police brutality, most notably the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Many Los Angeles activists calling for a reimagining of public safety have noted the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget of $1.761 billion, higher than any other city department.
Bass, D-Los Angeles, said her public safety plan is driven by keeping Angelenos safe, saying it is “the mayor’s most important responsibility.”
“But people don’t feel safe today. Whether you’ve had your car broken into, your backpack stolen, your property damaged — or you’ve seen news coverage of home robberies, or violent assaults — more and more Angelenos I speak with tell me crime has touched them personally, and they feel scared. That’s not right,” Bass said.
“All Angelenos deserve to feel safe in their neighborhoods. I know that can only happen by throwing out the old, failed approach of the status quo — which is why my community safety plan starts with a focus on effective and responsive policing, preventing homicides, and getting guns off our streets.”
Bass’ plan also calls for a crackdown on illegal firearm possession, an investment in specialized detectives and investigators tasked with solving shootings and murders, citing that only 55% of 2020’s murders were solved, and improving officers’ training in de-escalation tactics, accountability and transparency.
She also said she would expand the city’s Community Safety Partnership program, in which officers work with intervention workers, who have relationships with the community members they serve, in order to build trust with residents.
Bass, who has been an advocate for police reform, also said she would work to end “harmful policing practices” at the LAPD.
“Use of excessive force, including deadly shootings of unarmed civilians, undermine the integrity of, and public trust in, the police. Violence and brutality of any kind, particularly at the hands of the police meant to protect and serve our communities, must not be tolerated,” her plan states.
The plan also seeks to prevent crime from occurring by addressing its root causes, including through addiction recovery, mental health services, resources to low-income areas and programs that keep kids off the streets.
Bass’ public safety plan comes amid an increase in violent crime experienced in Los Angeles and major cities across the U.S.
L.A. had a nearly 12% year-over-year climb in homicides in 2021, bringing it to levels not seen since 2006. Violent crime increased 3.9% and property crimes rose by 4.2%. The number of people shot rose by 9%.