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L.A. in 2013: Public Safety on the Line

Board of Directors

The new year is shaping up to be a momentous one in our city’s history with public safety on the line.

For only the third time in 75 years, no incumbent will be on the ballot for mayor in 2013. In addition to electing a successor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who leaves office June 30, voters will determine whether the current city attorney keeps his office, pick a new controller and elect a majority of the City Council.

The stakes have never been higher. The outcome will serve as a leading indicator of the value L.A. residents place on public safety by putting in office those candidates clearly committed to putting public safety first. The LAPPL, of course, will play a leading role in determining who those candidates are and then working to get them elected.

L.A. closed out 2012 with an overall 2 percent reduction in crime, according to LAPD data reported by the Los Angeles Times. The good news was a decrease in serious crimes such as robbery, assault and auto thefts. Drilling into the data revealed small increases in homicides and thefts from vehicles and persons. Many observers cite prisoner realignment as a probable culprit for the uptick in petty thefts.

Another statistic that warrants everyone’s attention is hit-and-runs. According to an eye-opening L.A. Weekly report, 11 percent of vehicle collisions in the U.S. are hit-and-runs. But in Los Angeles, the percentage was four times greater than that in 2009 (the most recent year for which complete statistics are available).

The Weekly cited data collected by the state showing about 4,000 hit-and-run crashes a year inside L.A. city limits, including cases handled by LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. While law enforcement has a role in addressing this problem, other agencies – including LADOT, Public Works and Caltrans – need to assess what they can do and take appropriate preventative action.

Many large cities across America are seeing year-over-year increases in crime. How much longer L.A.’s decade-long drop in crime can continue will in no small measure relate to the outcome of the 2013 city elections and the restoration of full funding of the Police Department. More than ever, city government must be aligned for putting public safety first in its policies and budget priorities.

We wish all law-abiding people of Los Angeles a safe, healthy and prosperous new year.

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