While I concur with many of the observations Lewis C. Solmon makes in "Pay for Police, Not Ill-Fated Projects" (Commentary, Dec. 16), I disagree with his conclusion that the private sector should not provide support for police services through efforts like the Mayor's Alliance for a Safer L.A.
Public safety is clearly the government's responsibility. But current budget realities have meant that certain pressing needs at the Los Angeles Police Department--as well as at other city agencies--are not being met. So, in these difficult economic times, many responsible citizens who care about our city are asking: "What else can I do to make this a better place now?" And because public safety is our No. 1 concern, supporting our Police Department is one of the best ways to improve the quality of life in Los Angeles.
The $15 million in private donations being raised by the Mayor's Alliance for a Safer L.A. is not intended to be a long-term financial solution for the city's ability to provide critical police services. Rather, it is a one-time infusion of cash to address an immediate need, which will help jump-start the further modernization of the Police Department through future public funding. The immediate need is to provide computers and other technologies that will save hundreds of thousands of hours of police time and allow that time to be spent where it will be most effective--in providing direct police service to our community.
In the past 18 months, Mayor Richard Riordan and the City Council have made public safety a top priority: an $87 million increase in the LAPD's budget; new police cars and equipment; a pay raise for officers; the purchase of a new training facility, and stepped-up recruiting, hiring and training of new officers. But that effort should not preclude the public at large from proudly stepping forward, via the Mayor's Alliance and other community-based efforts, to help make a safer city for all of us.
DANIEL N. BELIN
Executive Committee Member
Mayor's Alliance for a Safer L.A.