Mayor Villaraigosa joined Police Chief William Bratton and City Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Jack Weiss and Tom LaBonge to announce the Los Angeles Police Department has expanded to its largest force in city history, this week on March 2 at the Police Academy Rock Garden.
As a result of the most aggressive police recruitment strategy in the country, the Los Angeles Police Department will surpasses its previous largest officer deployment of 9,852 recorded in June 1998.
The 1998 high was due in large part to an aggressive hiring effort by former Mayor Richard Riordan which was funded by the federal government's COPS program. When the COPS funding expired, the department began a steady decline in its ranks.
While most big cities continue cutting police budgets, Los Angeles has expanded its police force by over 700 officers and remains on track to reach 10,000 officers by the end of the year. Refusing to balance the City's budget at the cost of the City's public safety, the Mayor has worked with the City Council to maintain the 1,000-officer expansion a top budgetary priority.
Since initiating the City's police build up, LA has seen the citywide crime rate drop to its lowest level since 1956, the total number of homicides fall to a 38-year low. Gang homicides were down more than 24 percent in 2008.
Complementing the City's historic police buildup, the Mayor's office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development has targeted gang intervention and prevention efforts where they are needed most–in the areas of highest gang crime. In the 2008, GRYD helped to record the City's safest summer in more than 30 years by keeping the lights on at eight parks in the most gang ridden neighborhoods with its Summer Night Lights program.