Last night (Thursday, December 11, 2008) I attended a Town Hall meeting hosted by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl (CD11) where guest speaker LAPD Chief William Bratton tried his best to justify his reasons for pulling 26 officers away from the Westside to staff 2 new police stations, set to open in January 2009.
I won't bore you with the details, but the following facts were established:
1) The City Council approved the construction of two new police stations, but did not even think about how they would staff those police stations.
2) The only way that Chief Bratton can staff those new police stations is to take officers away ("harvesting" as he described it) from existing duties. In chosing where to "harvest" cops, Bratton selected areas of Los Angeles where violent crime is lower than other areas, i.e. the Westside.
3) LAPD is in the process of hiring the 1,000 extra cops that are supposed to be funded by the City as as a result of the trash tax. As of December 2009, 550 have been hired, but all are still in training. Bratton expects the new cops to be available for deployment in "3 to 6 months."
Given the above, wouldn't it be sensible to postpone opening these two police stations until the newly trained cops can fill the void?
I asked Chief Bratton that very question, and his response boils down to this:
a) He's not goinging to mothball these two stations, and
b) If he did mothball them, he believes that the City Council will keep them closed so as to avoid having to hire more cops.
c) He's going ahead and cutting police services to the Westside, and if you want to blame anyone, blame the City's elected officials.
Now that's a fine state of affairs, isn't it?