The Los Angeles City Council may soon decide that the city can afford 200 additional police officers, twice the number requested by Mayor Tom Bradley. A council committee has made the higher recommendation, and budget deliberations are expected to start by the end of this week.
Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, chairman of the council's Finance and Revenue Committee, is correct in his assessment that public safety remains the No. 1 issue in Los Angeles. The other committee members, David Cunningham and Joy Picus, also understand the concern. They are willing to squeeze the budget--to forgo the purchase of some equipment, to limit the number of new city employees--in order to find $2.7 million to pay for 200 new officers.
Any new commitment to public safety is welcome, but the city needs at least 1,000 additional officers--not merely 100 or 200. Proposition 1 on the June 4 ballot would do just that by authorizing a modest new property tax.
There is a natural reluctance among voters to impose new taxes on themselves that Bradley and the City Council must work to overcome. They must talk up the need for more police officers throughout the city. They must get out and campaign as hard for public safety as they do for themselves.