* We must get a prompt and reasonable settlement of the contract dispute with the rank and file men and women of LAPD. Each day that passes results in more rancor and evident personal umbrage. The perception of disrespect and seeming lack of concern for each other's well-being results in enmity. Unfortunately, that includes not just the negotiating teams but the City Council, the mayor, the officers on the street and the rest of us--ordinary citizens.
The trick, though, is to determine what is "reasonable."
I don't know specific numbers but here are some things I consider when thinking about officer pay.
I want the best people we can get. I don't want the best working for San Jose or San Diego. I want them with good judgment, good training, dedication to the city and respect for my neighborhood. That's a lot to ask.
I've always felt that to ask for the very best from my employees, the reciprocal responsibility was to pay the best. Of course, there have been times when I've had to admit I couldn't pay top, realized it and asked for top performance anyway.
I cannot comment specifically where the money might come from. I know that I am willing to forgo a lot of service in order to have responsive police attention to my neighborhood. I can sweep my own street, but I cannot apprehend a felon. Maybe we could sell off part of a land-rich golf course. Perhaps we should collect the millions in unpaid business license taxes. Perhaps we should delay hiring more police until we adequately take care of the ones we have.
* I heartily approve of a raise for LAPD, especially for patrol officers who are now performing a more complex and dangerous job than they did even two years ago.
However, the more I follow the negotiations between the city and the police union, the more I favor incentives for Los Angeles police to live in Los Angeles, so they will have a stake in the city beyond just their paychecks.
* Why not restructure LAPD's overly generous retirement benefits so that retirement after 20 years of service would become infinitely less attractive financially than hanging in for 30? For those officers who experience "burnout" after 20 years on the street, there are plenty of desk jobs they can fill.
If the LAPD would shake its "them against us" mind-set, it would find that the rest of the work force in Los Angeles isn't nearly as well paid as police officers, nor do other workers of comparable skills retire in their early 40s with benefits for life. It is indeed sad to see the motto "Protect and Serve" degenerate into "Whine and Threaten."
* The Los Angeles City Council does not seem to understand that the city pays too much for most city services and too little for our police officers. Council members have opposed privatization of city services, saying that such an action would lower wages and "balance the budget on the backs" of certain city workers. Yet at the same time, they have had no qualms about "balancing the budget on the backs" of underpaid Los Angeles police officers, as they've done for years.
With the city in a budget crisis, it seems patently unfair to pay garbage collectors above-market wages and police officers below-market wages. Not only that, this is clearly out of line with what the citizens of Los Angeles want. The top priority must be safe streets, and that depends on good police service.
* Re " 'Blue Flu': Expensive Epidemic," editorial, June 1:
You bring out some good points, but you fail to mention one fact. Last year the voters, in good faith, approved making the extra half-cent sales tax permanent. This revenue was to go to law enforcement and fire protection. I'm sure it does, but an equal amount of "other" money is taken away. Net gain for law enforcement--zero. When will the voters wake up? Let's find out where this money is going. Get it back, and give it to the police and fire departments as it was intended.
CLAUDE L. KORMANN