It is madness.
The Los Angeles City Council voted to eliminate 761 positions starting July 1st while going along with a scheme to keep the LAPD happy by allowing the recruitment and hiring of new officers to replace those who retire or resign--all in the name of keeping the department at 9,963 sworn officers.
I know, the police department argues that it needs to keep the force at this level to fight crime. As I--and others--have written about before, there are no valid studies that actually back the notion, always advanced by police departments, of course, that more cops means less crime. In fact, there are studies which show good examples of the opposite: lowered crime, even when police departments have experienced cutbacks.
Police departments are like the military: They demand constant expansion, not to mention bloated budgets, and use fear and the threats of harm to the population unless they get what they want. Few politicians have the backbone to stand up to this nonsense. Certainly most of the ones in Los Angeles do not!
OK, so now we will have our 9,963 LAPD officers.
But the price tag is costly.
Dozens of child-care positions will be eliminated, leaving the city's most vulnerable citizens in worse shape than before. Maybe some of those new cops hired can be assigned to work with them?
Library hours will be greatly scaled back at a time when public education in Los Angeles is already a raging joke across the nation. Maybe some of those new cops hired can be assigned to read books to school children? Wouldn't that do more to reduce crime than having more officers mounted on horses?
Neigborhoods already blighted by foreclosures will look even more shabby because fewer trees will now be trimmed. Maybe some of those new cops hired can be given a ladder and saw and help do some much needed pruning?
In addition to the planned elimination of jobs, the council also said yes to payless fourlough days (between 16 and 26!) for some civilian employees over the course of the next year. Of course, the new cops hired will not be subject to that loss of income!
Of course police are needed. But what is also needed is a sense of balance. What the L.A. City Council has voted for does not achieve this.
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has covered police and politics in Los Angeles since 1995 and currently is a regular contributor of investigative reporting to KNX1070 Newsradio.