The core of a livable city is public safety. Government’s basic duty is to protect the safety of its residents. And our politicians must recognize this to be fit to serve.
When I launched this campaign in May, crime was discussed in passing. But since October, it has become an issue in every discussion I’ve had with voters. People worry about their safety and security in their homes. Many say they have never seen an LAPD vehicle patrol their neighborhoods. And they have good reason to worry. Crime in Council District 5 has increased at staggering levels, with a 52.6% increase in violent crime in West Los Angeles and a 25.8% increase in violent crime in the Wilshire Division over the past two years.
Crime is a complex subject, but there are two clear reasons for the increase. First, there are at least 22,000 more people in CD5 over the past twenty years, but roughly the same number of police patrols, with sometimes just two – two! – patrol cars in all of the Westside. Second, the homelessness crisis creates serious risks for everyone’s public safety, including the homeless who are often victims themselves. While homelessness presents public safety concerns, we need a compassionate solution to stop the homelessness crisis like the one I laid out here.
To stop this crime surge, I will fight for three proposals:
- More police. Los Angeles spends less per person than any other major city – and it’s not even close. We spend $380 per resident on police, while San Francisco ($689), New York City ($600), and Chicago ($517) spend way more. Five years ago, the police force reached 10,000, but today it has dipped below that number. We need more police on the beat, and the Westside deserves its fair share of the additional officers.
- More community policing. The police force needs strong community participation to serve and protect the public. The community is the eyes and ears of public safety, being the first to report crimes, and is the bedrock of community support and relationship-based policing. I will work hard to organize the community to be a stronger tool for the police through neighborhood watch programs, problem-specific task forces, and community groups to deal with our crime and homelessness surge. To strengthen these partnerships, we should encourage active and retired police officers who work in our neighborhoods to live in our neighborhoods. Finally, I will work in partnership with LAPD and community organizations to create a CD5 Crime Prevention Coalition to take stock of best practices and share them for the benefit of every neighborhood.
- Better use of police technology. Technology won’t replace a police officer in our lifetimes, but LAPD needs to leverage technology and the private sector’s network of security cameras to deter and solve crimes. I’ve canvassed over a thousand homes in our district and a clear pattern has emerged – nearly every other door has a video doorbell. Given the level of video surveillance in the community, we need to ensure LAPD has the resources to connect to these videos directly and in real-time (with the owner’s consent, of course) to help deter and solve crime. This goes for local businesses as well, who experience theft on a mass scale, yet feel like their complaints aren’t taken seriously.