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Which Way on Prop A?

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LA has a crime problem. Or, rather, LA has an endemic gang problem, and gangsters breed crime. It was true in Prohibition-era Chicago, and it's certainly true in current-day Los Angeles.

Sometimes it seems that gangs operate with near impunity in LA, a condition which has led to an unbearable homicide rate in some areas of our city, with each murder of an innocent seemingly more callous and brutal than the last.

The LAPD seems helpless in the face of gang violence. The murder rate in the city has climbed as other crime statistics have fallen. Clearly, Chief William Bratton will not reach his goal of reducing the murder rate by 20% this year. He's got a tough fight ahead of him, and he naturally wants more officers on the street to help him confront the gang problem head on.

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And so, we have Proposition A, a measure that would up our sales tax and earmark the increase for public safety spending, including hiring new cops and adding funding for our overburdened county jail system.

Sounds reasonable. However, as has been pointed out, Prop A makes no provision for ensuring that the new sales tax will actually go towards hiring new offciers. Instead, the wording of the measure leaves open the possibility that the tax could be used instead for pay raises and increased benefits for existing officers.

Unfortunately, this is often par for the course in LA. Public safety should be job one for our elected officials. Instead, they often appear more intent on mollifying the unions (4 day police work weeks, et al) that heavily contribute to their campaigns than serving the citizens of LA.

It's hard to take their word that they'll spend the money wisely, and that's a shame. This city desperately needs more police officers. Some sort of measure that would put more cops on the streets is probably needed. But this is not that measure. It's too open to abuse.