Like a good salesman or a seasoned politician, Los Angeles Police Chief Willie L. Williams tailored his appeal to his audience Wednesday, asking about 200 Woodland Hills residents and entrepreneurs to support the hiring of more police officers, for the sake of business.
Of course, boosting the ranks of the Police Department was an easy sell to most of those present, who had paid $10 to $15 to hear Williams speak at the Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast at the Warner Center Hilton & Towers. The crowd loudly applauded one of its own, who asked Williams: “What can we do to help you?”
“We need you to be a lobbyist for us,” Williams said. “Mayor (Richard) Riordan has indicated that he is going to announce in the next couple of weeks a plan that will strengthen public safety, which will strengthen the business environment, which will strengthen people’s decisions to stay in the city.”
The chief told the assembled members of the Woodland Hills Rotary Club, business owners and others, who sipped orange juice from champagne glasses and ate muffins and sausages as he spoke, that Riordan plans to stand by his campaign pledge to help put 3,000 more cops on the streets of Los Angeles.
“In the next four years, you’ll see 3,000 more police officers when you walk out of the doors of your homes and your businesses,” Williams said. But “it’s going to require some difficult, and maybe not so popular, decisions.”
Williams, who lives in Woodland Hills, said that since taking office 14 months ago he has tried to respond to the citizens of Los Angeles as a head of a company responds to clients.
“Part of what you call community-based policing is involving your customer in the (decision-making) process,” he said. “Those of you who sell clothes understand: You may think something is great, but if you don’t test it on your customer, it’s going to stay on the rack.”