Tuesday, April 16, 2002
Hahn Pledges $3.6 Million for Neighborhood Prosecutors, $1 Million Short of Delgadillo Budget Request
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Mayor James Hahn yesterday pledged to arm city lawyers with $3.6 million to chase away nuisance crimes and rid Los Angeles neighborhoods of visual blight as he gave the first of several planned piecemeal revelations of his soon-to-be introduced budget.
But that sum is nearly $1 million short of what City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo is asking to keep his Neighborhood Prosecutors program running, a spokeswoman said.
Delgadillo originally lobbied the mayor for $4.4 million to cover salaries and operating costs but Hahn, speaking at the demolition of a "gang house" in Watts, announced a $3.6 million budget for the program, city attorney spokeswoman Ana Garcia said.
"It's not fully funded," Garcia said of the program.
The Neighborhood Prosecutors program, which places a deputy city attorney in each of the LAPD's 18 divisions, was unveiled in November by Delgadillo, who hosted a house demolition of his own in Highland Park.
The prosecutors program, which has been in place since March 1, assigns deputy city attorneys to particular neighborhoods to work with police officers and community members to identify "small" crimes. The neighborhood prosecutors join forces with the Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program to rid Los Angeles neighborhoods of quality-of-life crimes.
"I am very proud that my budget reflects a commitment to making neighborhoods safe from crime and free from blight by funding quality crime prevention programs like CNAP and the Neighborhood Prosecutors Program," Hahn said in a statement. "The Neighborhood Prosecutors Program and CNAP have a substantial impact on Los Angeles communities."
Garcia said Hahn's recommending that $3.6 million was like paying for a police officer but not his car, his radio or his gun.
"If you truly believe law enforcement is job one, you have to put your money behind your words," Garcia said.
The City Attorney's Office had not yet received anything in writing from Hahn on the specifics of the budget allotment and was not aware of the final breakdown of what the $3.6 million will cover, Garcia said.
Garcia later recanted her previous statements that the Neighborhood Prosecutors program was not fully funded and said she was not sure of the details of the mayor's budget for the program.
"We're very happy with the money that we have received," she said, adding that the office was looking forward to receiving the final breakdown of the mayor's budget.
At his November press conference to announce the pilot Neighborhood Prosecutors program, Delgadillo placed the bill for the project at approximately $3.2 million to pay for the new lawyers plus new CNAP staff. Delgadillo's original plan called for 15 deputy city attorneys, one for each council district, a number that was increased to 18 to correspond to each of the LAPD's 18 divisions.
Under the mayor's budget, CNAP, a city task force that combines the Department of Building and Safety and other city agencies to close hazardous and nuisance buildings, will also get beefed up to handle the referrals from the neighborhood prosecutors. CNAP, which was put into place in 1997 while Hahn was city attorney, addresses problems such as prostitution, narcotics, gang activity and Alcoholic Beverage Control violations.
The members of CNAP work together to reduce potential and existing criminal activity in and around businesses such as motels, liquor stores, adult entertain-
ment locations, and, in some instances, private residences.
It was not immediately clear how the $3.6 million would be used to fund the program. Hahn's office did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company