Yesterday, at the Los Angeles Police Department Metropolitan Dispatch Center in downtown, Chief Bill Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were buddying up again, with City Attorney candidate and Councilman Jack Weiss along for the ride.
Initially described in press releases as a “report” on the city's crime rate, Thursday morning's confab with reporters quickly turned into something of a political event when Villaraigosa insisted that despite a massive budget shortfall of over a half billion dollars, and with over a thousand city employee lay-offs almost certain and services throughout Los Angeles destined to be cut, he will move forward with his plan to hire more police officers.
“Though the critics may call for a change, though some may want us to stop our public safety effort in its tracks, it is absolutely critical that we not back down,'' Villaraigosa told the press, according to City News Service. “We refuse to quit and we reject the calls to scale back on our ambitions in the name of a little temporary budget relief.''
As L.A. Weekly reported in last week's cover story, “Bratton: L.A. Is As Safe As 1956,” it was the kind of press conference that's become a common practice by Villaraigosa and Bratton, who are never shy to go in front of the TV news cameras with crime statistics in hand and push forward whatever agenda that may be on their plate that day.
Armed with statistics that showed dips in crime when compared to the same, first four months of last year, Bratton unsurprisingly backed Villaraigosa's hard push to hire more cops, crediting a larger police force for the recent crime drop, according to City News Service. The chief also made it clear that the city's politicians must stay the course and not freeze police hiring.
“When you've got this momentum going, you don't want to be in the Indy 500 and be on your 485th lap, close to victory . . . and then all of the sudden pull in to a pit stop,'' Bratton told reporters.
Exactly what that victory is can be anyone's guess. But with Weiss, who's running in a tough race against Carmen Trutanich, showing up at the sides of Bratton and Villaraigosa 11 days before Election Day; with the mayor refusing to budge from an old campaign promise despite extremely tight economic times; and with the chief, who has heartily endorsed Weiss, pulling out crime statistics to support his boss, Thursday's press conference was anything but a run-of-the-mill crime report.
(Correction: A previous version of this post stated that L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti attended the press conference. In one of the press release for the event, it stated that Garcetti would be there, but the councilman was not informed of the press conference until the last minute and subsequently did not attend due to prior commitments.)
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.