Anaheim Moves to Hire More Police Officers : Crime: The City Council cites growing gang activity in its unanimous vote to divert $1.1 million from local hotel tax revenue to increase the force.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Citing the proliferation of gang activity, the City Council on Tuesday moved to divert about $1.1 million from hotel tax revenue to hire more police officers to patrol city streets.

"We must hire more police officers right now," Mayor Fred Hunter said Tuesday. "I will bring this up every week until this gets solved."

The council unanimously endorsed the concept and directed Police Chief Joseph T. Molloy and City Manager James Ruth to return next week with a plan.

The rousing, unscheduled discussion by the council followed a Times Orange County Poll of 600 Anaheim residents which showed that nine in 10 view crime and gangs as a significant problem in their city.

Hunter has indicated that about 10 officers could be hired with the hotel tax money, adding to the department's force of about 340 sworn officers.

Police Department officials confirm that the number of gangs in Anaheim has increased in the past decade. Fifty-one gangs with about 700 members compete on Anaheim turf, Hunter has said.

While supporting the mayor's proposal, Councilman Tom Daly said he had endorsed such a plan late last year when the council voted instead to approve a $17-million expansion of the city's Convention Center complex.

The council's decision came on the same day that it received a proposal from a citizen's committee that the city spend more than $200,000 in available federal funds on the Police Department's gang enforcement unit.

That committee also asked the council to consider spending some of the federal funds to hire bilingual police officers.

Attorney George W. Abbes said the Police Department has failed to keep pace with the city's growing Latino population. Census figures indicate that slightly more than a third of Anaheim's 270,000 residents are Latino.

"It's incumbent that police are able to communicate with the people the department serves," Abbes said.

In other action, the council approved a plan that would award $7 million to Anaheim schools for future building projects.

Under the agreement, the Anaheim Redevelopment Agency would provide $2 million to the Anaheim Union High School District and $5 million to the city elementary school district in an attempt to keep up with continued downtown residential development.

According to the agreement, the money would be restricted for construction and renovation of school buildings and land acquisition for proposed school sites.

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