Los Angeles City Councilman John Ferraro, bidding for San Fernando Valley support, attacked Mayor Tom Bradley's administration on Thursday for transferring police officers from the Valley to a South-Central Los Angeles anti-crime task force.
Formally opening his campaign for mayor in the April 9 municipal primary, Ferraro emphasized the police issue. He called for more police, charged that "Tom Bradley has constantly reduced the number of police" and pledged to "launch a war on drugs, gangs and street crime like no city in this country has ever seen."
In response to questions about where officers should be stationed, Ferraro said: "I wouldn't favor one neighborhood over another, and I think you have to look at the crime and make sure there is the best possible police protection throughout the city, and not in certain areas."
Asked if he thought the transfer of some officers from the Valley to South-Central is an example of favoring one neighborhood over another, Ferraro replied, "Yes."
Major Valley Issue
Those words, and Ferraro's heading out to Studio City in the Valley for a press luncheon after his opening news conference, pointed up the importance of the predominantly white, mostly conservative, middle-class Valley to the campaign of the underdog challenger, who is portraying himself as more conservative than the mayor.
Police protection is a major issue in the Valley. Residents complained about the Police Department taking nine officers from the Valley for the 29-officer task force, which is attempting to stop violent crime at two housing projects in predominantly black South-Central. Ferraro also criticized Bradley's advocacy of the Metro Rail subway project, proposing again a 52-mile light-rail system along freeway corridors. He attacked two of Bradley's major appointments as "cronyism" and said Bradley is more interested in being governor than mayor.
Bradley, who Wednesday said "Who?" when Ferraro's name was mentioned, was stung enough by his foe's attack to suddenly call a news conference four hours after Ferraro's announcement.
He said Ferraro's freeway light-rail plan would require the closure of two freeway lanes on the Santa Monica, Ventura, Hollywood, Santa Ana and Harbor freeways. "It would be a nightmare," he said.
Recalling the controversy several years ago about a car-pool, mass-transit-only "Diamond Lane" on the Santa Monica Freeway, Bradley said: "Now Mr. Ferraro wants to put in a rail lane. Friends, it won't work. It's the most idiotic suggestion I've ever heard."
Criticizing Enforcement Plan
Answering Ferraro's charge about the governorship, Bradley said: "I am not planning to run for governor. I want to make it very clear that I want to be mayor of Los Angeles." But he stopped short of promising he would not seek the governorship, saying: "I don't think any politician ought to be in a position of promising everything under the sun and then at a later date, circumstances change and they change their minds."
In attacking the transfer of officers to South-Central, Ferraro was criticizing a plan worked out by Bradley and the Police Department in response to demands from South-Central Los Angeles for help in stopping violent crime.
Cmdr. William Booth, the Police Department spokesman, said of the 26 police officers and three sergeants assigned to the detail, 19 came from divisions outside South-Central and the rest from the area. Of the 19, nine came from the Valley and the rest from Northeast, Hollywood, Wilshire, West Los Angeles and Pacific, which is in charge of Venice. Booth said under the plan, the places will be filled by replacements from newly hired recruits now being trained. About 100 of them will be available at the end of the year.
Ferraro charged that Bradley "has reduced the authorized strength of our Police Department by nearly 1,200."
Police and city administrative office records show there has been a drop in police staffing during the Bradley years, but not as great as Ferraro charged.
In the 1973-74 fiscal year, the department was authorized to have 7,459 police officers and 2,942 civilians. (Officials list the figures according to authorized positions, rather than actual officers on the payroll because they said that number fluctuates).
The number remained about the same until the 1979-80 fiscal year, when the authorized number of police officers dropped to 7,103 and civilians to 2,614. City Administrative Officer Keith Comrie blamed the reduction on Proposition 13 cutbacks, mushrooming costs of the police pension system and a business slowdown, which cut tax revenues.
This year, there are 6,900 police officers authorized and 2,786 civilians. That is a total of 707 fewer authorized positions.
Ferraro's 1,200 figure, officials said, apparently counted 500 temporary, federally paid people hired by the city under a recession program since discontinued.
Bradley said that he had actually increased the number of officers in the field by 200. But the city administrative office figures showed that the field force has dropped from 5,217 in 1977-78 to 5,072 in the current fiscal year.