January 14, 2013 |
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has every reason to be proud of his public safety record. He worked well with Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, who had been hired by the mayor's predecessor, James Hahn. When Bratton left, Villaraigosa oversaw a thoughtful process to vet potential replacements and settled on the capable Charlie Beck. Over the course of Villaraigosa's nearly eight years as mayor, crime has significantly declined; in each of the last three years, there were fewer than 300 murders in the city, a sea change from a generation ago. Villaraigosa will leave Los Angeles far safer than he found it. But the mayor is rarely content to be credited only for what he deserves, and last week offered another reminder of that.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 1, 2013 |
SUNNYVALE, Calif. - A disgruntled employee had sprayed his workplace with gunfire - killing three and wounding six - before heading into this Silicon Valley community, shooting another innocent and then melting into a residential neighborhood. There weren't enough patrol officers available to secure the search area. But commanders in Sunnyvale's Department of Public Safety were able to do what few across the country can: They called on a fire crew that was coming off duty to switch hats.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 11, 2012 |
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday that concerns raised by a top Fire Department commander about staffing changes at the agency's 911 call center need to be addressed before the proposal moves forward. The plan backed by the mayor and city leaders would shift dispatchers from a 24-hour schedule to an eight-hour workday, a move that would save about $3.2 million annually. But a report by the commander who runs the dispatch center warned that public safety would be compromised if the plan were adopted before the agency replaced an aging computer system that has crashed repeatedly.
November 11, 2012 |
Weed is now a winner. The politics of marijuana legalization have gone from the fringes to the mainstream, catching opponents off guard and even startling some proponents with their own success. Voters in Colorado and Washington easily passed ballot initiatives - 55% to 45% in each state - to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana. So how did this happen? A third legalization measure stumbled badly in Oregon despite the state's progressive leanings, with some supporters pointing to a disorganized and underfunded campaign.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 9, 2012 |
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Thursday warned that police officers will be in danger of layoffs unless the city proceeds with a ballot measure to increase its sales tax by a half-cent. Speaking to The Times' editorial page board, Beck complained that he is already unable to hire 911 emergency operators, custody officers and mechanics. And he warned that the LAPD would probably lose 500 officers without the more than $200 million that would be generated by a sales tax hike.
October 25, 2012
Re "Boundaries hold up L.A. 911 response," Oct. 21 How is it possible that in a place the size of Los Angeles, the city and county rescue services most of the time do not communicate with each other during life-threatening emergencies? When 911 is called, not only should a well-trained operator answer, but the closest available paramedics and firefighters should be dispatched immediately, regardless of municipal boundaries. The Times has reported this year that the Los Angeles Fire Department's emergency response times lag behind other agencies', and now we learn that a solution to better integrate the city's and the county's dispatch systems is not yet in sight, putting residents' safety at risk.
October 7, 2012
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck's decision last week not to hand over hundreds of undocumented illegal immigrants arrested each year to the federal government for deportation is a wise choice that will help rather than hurt public safety. The federal program Beck is challenging has never done what it was supposed to do, which is to assist with the deportation of violent and dangerous criminals who are in this country illegally. Known as Secure Communities, the program requires state and local police to share the fingerprints of anyone booked into a local jail with federal authorities, who then check them against criminal and immigration databases.
September 30, 2012
Re "Council backs pension cuts for new workers," Sept. 26 According to approved 2012 salaries for city of Los Angeles employees, the mayor's office has more than 35 employees making six figures; the city administrator's office has more than 60; and the city clerk's office has more than 20, as does the city employees retirement system's office. Other departments have dozens of employees making more than six figures. City Council members earn about $180,000 annually. Not including those in public safety or technical professions, hundreds of pencil pushers in L.A. city government make six figures.
September 19, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Fourteen federal law enforcement officials - from field agents in Arizona to top managers in the ATF and Department of Justice in Washington - created a “significant danger to public safety” under Operation Fast and Furious and those still employed were referred for possible job discipline for carrying out a gun-walking operation that saturated the Southwest Border with more than 2,000 illegally-purchased firearms. Less than an hour after those findings were announced Wednesday by the Justice Department's Inspector General's office, two of the individuals - Kenneth Melson, the former head of the ATF, and Deputy Assistant Atty.
September 16, 2012
Re "Mommy wars and pandering," Column, Sept. 14 Thanks to Gale Holland for her critique of the Republican and Democratic "Competitive Motherlove and Father of the Year Shows" (also known as the conventions). As a mother and a writer about parenthood, I'm all in favor of discussions about parenting and raising ethical, healthy children, but the copious pandering to American motherhood was too much, even for me. I would also like to cast my vote against proclamations of spousal love at national party conventions.