Saying police officers should live in the communities they serve, Los Angeles mayoral candidate Xavier Becerra called Sunday for offering housing and utility assistance to officers who live in the city.
"Part of the solution is more community policing--the community knowing police and police knowing the community," the Democratic congressman for Los Angeles said at a campaign appearance in Pacoima. "We want the next generation of police on the Eastside to be from the Eastside. We want police from the Westside to be from the Westside. We don't want somebody punching the clock in Pacoima at 8 in the morning, punching out at 6 and going home to Rancho Cucamonga."
The incentives are part of a crime prevention platform that Becerra has adopted to sharpen his message before the April 10 election. He also called for people under restraining orders to register with local law enforcement agencies, similar to the way sex offenders are registered, as a means of curbing domestic violence.
Becerra also proposed a scholarship program for Los Angeles high school students who intend to return as police officers to their old neighborhoods.
UCLA sophomore John Loau told about 100 people at the rally that he wanted to join the Los Angeles Police Department after getting his bachelor's degree. But he said the LAPD did not offer a scholarship, and he couldn't afford school without one. Instead, he accepted a Reserve Officers' Training Corps scholarship and will serve in the Marine Corps after graduation.
"I had been in youth volunteer organizations with LAPD, and then learned they didn't have a way to help me after high school," said Loau, 21, of Boyle Heights.
After a brief address interspersed with phrases in Spanish, Becerra walked the streets with about 100 supporters from the heavily Latino area of the northeast Valley.
Becerra said grass-roots rallies like the one Sunday help him against better-funded rivals. "People can raise money and have a lot of television commercials, but that doesn't beat the passion of supporters on the ground."