Los Angeles Deputy Mayor William C. Violante and Police Chief Willie L. Williams will make the Washington rounds today in search of federal money to hire 100 new police officers, part of the effort to boost the depleted ranks of the LAPD.
Violante and Williams expect to court six members of the California congressional delegation--including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer--and meet with Atty. Gen. Janet Reno. At stake: $27 million in Justice Department grants for law enforcement, which Los Angeles officials say could put an additional 100 LAPD officers on the force and pay their salaries for four years.
Congress has allocated $150 million for a Justice Assistance Program, and President Clinton during his campaign promised to put 100,000 more officers on U.S. streets. Los Angeles officials, who met with Reno during her recent visit to the city, say they want to get their share of any federal money that is given out.
"This would be a great step toward making Los Angeles a safer city," Violante said at a news conference before departing Monday. "What we're looking for right now is as much money as we can get."
Williams was out of town Monday and is meeting Violante in Washington.
Mayor Richard Riordan's focus has been on hiring new officers, and the trip this week represents one of many approaches that his Administration is pursuing to achieve that goal. As a candidate, Riordan pledged to hire 3,000 more police officers and vowed that he would end his four-year term with a 10,500-officer force.
The LAPD has fewer than 7,700 officers, down from a high of about 8,400 several years ago. Money is the main obstacle to an expansion of the force, but Williams has cautioned against moving too quickly to boost the ranks, in part because he and other officials fear that rapid growth could dilute the training that officers receive.
In a letter to Reno, Riordan stressed the city's "critical need for additional police officers."
"More than any other community in the nation, Los Angeles has the greatest need for additional police officers," Riordan said. "We appeal to you and to the President to come to our assistance."
As Violante and Williams were preparing to fight for federal money, Riordan's appointees to the Police Commission sailed through their initial confirmation hearings at City Hall without controversy.
The City Council's Public Safety Committee recommended that the council confirm the appointments of Art Mattox, a Xerox executive and reserve officer who has served on a police gay advisory group; Rabbi Gary Greenebaum of the American Jewish Committee; lawyer Deirdre Hill and security firm executive Enrique Hernandez Jr.
All four pledged their commitment to reform of the Police Department as outlined by the Christopher Commission. They also spoke of their hopes for a more sympathetic public reception of police officers.
"No person should be prejudged (by police) about who they are or what their intentions might be," said Greenebaum who, if confirmed, is expected to head the commission. "At the same time, I feel very strongly the department needs support from the community. We have people putting their lives on the line for us every day."
A fifth nominee, San Fernando Valley car dealer Herbert F. (Bert) Boeckmann, could not attend Monday's hearings. He is expected to face the committee today and the full council next week.