Thursday, July 26, 2001
Hahn Says He Favors Drug Treatment, Wants More Officers on Street
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Mayor Jim Hahn vowed yesterday not to let the “crooks keep the upper hand for long” in spite of police staffing shortages and low officer retention rates.
In his first appearance on KFWB’s “Ask the Mayor” radio program, Hahn said he wanted to deal with drug-related crimes through treatment and educational programs while at the same time getting more officers on the streets and retaining them.
“We’re understaffed,” Hahn said of the LAPD, adding there are currently about 800 officer vacancies in the department. “That’s why crooks get the upper hand sometimes.”
The LAPD is actually understaffed by almost 1,200 officers, a department spokesman said. LAPD Officer Jason Lee said the department is authorized in the budget to have 10,177 officers, but currently only has 8,979.
Police staffing and implementation of the “3-12” compressed work schedule for patrol officers were hot topics on the monthly program as Hahn restated his promise to implement the schedule, saying earlier resistance from Police Chief Bernard Parks on the program was no longer a problem.
Backing the controversial “3-12” program, which calls for patrol officers to work 12 hour shifts three days a week, helped Hahn win the endorsement of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
In addition to the “3-12” program, Hahn defended his first veto on campaign finance reform and discussed improving transportation in the valley.
The veto, which blocked a measure to raise election matching funds from a dollar for dollar rate to $2 for every dollar raised by a matching fund candidate, was criticized as an act of an incumbent refusing to level the playing field.
Hahn defended the decision, saying that he is in favor of an even race, but that the proposal was incomplete and he wanted the new City Council to have a chance to review it.
“I’d like to tell the Ethics Commission and the City Council, let’s not do it piecemeal,” Hahn said. “Let’s do it in a way to really level the playing field.”
The council is considering an override.
Hahn also received a surprise on-air call from LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer who asked the mayor why he was so focused on supporting after school programs like L.A.’s BEST, an innovative program started in 1988 to involve elementary school children in enriching activities after school instead of leaving them out on the streets.
Hahn said his experience as city attorney showed him how much of a need there is for such programs.
“As city prosecutor, I found that youth crime goes up in the hours right after school gets out,” Hahn said. “Between three and seven, youth crime triples.”
Romer and Hahn pledged to work together to expand the program, but agreed that there needs to be more parental involvement.
“This is real-after school enrichment,” Hahn said, adding that kids who participate in the program have lower dropout rates and better grades. “They are involved in math, science and arts. We want to encourage all of those things.”
Along with public safety and increasing after school programs, the mayor listed building more housing in the city among his top three priorities.
“Ask the Mayor” was begun on KFWB for Mayor Richard Riordan, and Hahn has agreed to continue the monthly radio programs. He is next scheduled to appear on Aug. 9 at 10 a.m.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company