City Gets $4 Million to Hire 54 Officers : Law enforcement: L.A.'s award is the largest by the U.S. Justice Department. Inglewood, Garden Grove, Moreno Valley, Fillmore and Fontana also receive funds.
Offering a “down payment” on his promise to put 100,000 more police officers on the streets of U.S. cities, President Bill Clinton Monday announced grants to hire hundreds of new officers nationwide, including 54 for the Los Angeles Police Department.
The city’s $4-million award was the largest handed out by the Administration and represents a first step toward Mayor Richard Riordan’s goal of increasing the ranks of city police by nearly 3,000 officers.
“This is a great beginning,” Riordan told Clinton during a conference call with five other mayors to announce the grants. “It’s good to know we’re all rowing in the same direction.”
Clinton, whose Administration is trying to respond to a national outcry about crime, assured the mayors, “Help is on the way.”
Nearly $50 million was distributed by the Justice Department on Monday in the first of three rounds of awards. Thirteen California cities and counties accounted for nearly 22% of the initial round, making the state the largest beneficiary.
Among the Southern California departments receiving grants were Inglewood, Garden Grove, Moreno Valley, Fillmore and Fontana.
The $4-million grant to Los Angeles is the largest allowed by the federal program, which aims to assist cities whose departments have been depleted by budgetary restrictions and emphasize community policing techniques.
San Antonio had the next-highest award, with $3 million to hire 40 new officers. Several communities, including the Ft. Bragg Police Department in Mendocino County, received grants to hire one officer.
Nationwide, 74 awards were announced to hire 658 officers. After all three rounds, the $150-million program will help pay for 2,000 new officers over three years.
Riordan and the other mayors on the telephone hookup were eager to give thanks for the federal help. “This is the best Christmas gift we could ever receive,” said Newark Mayor Sharpe James.
But Riordan may face a difficult quest in finding federal funding for the rest of the LAPD buildup he envisions.
Los Angeles is not expected to receive any more money from the program, which was part of a supplemental appropriation signed into law last July. And Clinton’s plan to fund 100,000 new officers is bogged down as the House and Senate consider different approaches to major crime legislation.
Gov. Pete Wilson, during a brief Washington visit, said Monday that the awards were “only a drop in the bucket” and hoped that the federal government would be able to offer more in the future.
City officials were optimistic that if new federal funds are approved, the city is well-positioned to win them. Along with general selection criteria--based on need and community policing strategies--city and congressional officials had urged the Justice Department to consider geographic factors as well.
The vast territory that the LAPD polices has stretched its ranks dangerously thin, city officials have argued. Only 350 patrol cars cover 470 square miles, and the department has one police officer for every 457 residents. By comparison, New York City’s ratio is one officer for every 260 residents.
Riordan discussed his concerns about crime with the President in an Oval Office chat in October. The Mayor also dispatched Deputy Mayor William C. Violante and Police Chief Willie L. Williams on an earlier Washington lobbying mission in August.
Eighteen of the new Los Angeles officers will be assigned to community police stations, designed to encourage better cooperation between police and neighborhoods through the establishment of police advisory councils, the Justice Department said.
The grant money will also expand such community policing activities as bike patrols, youth recreation programs, neighborhood anti-drug groups and after-school tutorials.
The remaining 36 officers will be assigned to community service centers in each geographic area to help coordinate with other juvenile justice programs, including the Community Youth Gang Services Project, and Operation Cleansweep, an anti-graffiti program.
After talking with the mayors, Clinton signed the National Child Protection Act, which creates a national database of those indicted or convicted of child abuse and sex offenses, violent crimes, arson and felony drug charges. Companies that hire child-care workers can use the database to check the backgrounds of potential employees.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who has said she was a victim of child abuse, attended the ceremony. “It is just the beginning of what needs to be done to make the world a safer place for children,” she said.
Also on Monday, Clinton met with Marc Klaas, the father of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl kidnaped from her Petaluma home during a slumber party and killed. Klaas said he is pushing anti-crime initiatives that “get these bad men off these streets and get them off the streets for good.”
“President Clinton is in a position to influence people and I hope that he can use that influence to help make America a safer place for children,” Klaas said after the session. “I am not going to let my daughter’s death be in vain.”
The Administration also signaled that it wants to sharply reduce the number of gun dealers in the nation by increasing dealer licensing fees, now $10 a year. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen told the Associated Press on Monday that “it makes no sense at all to have over 250,000 dealers in guns . . . and to have a very minimum payment where you have people even operating out of their kitchens.”
Times staff writer Mark Bousian contributed to this article.
Help Is on the Way
These California cities and counties have been selected to receive Justice Department grants to hire additional police officers.
DEPARTMENT GRANT OFFICERS POPULATION AMOUNT FUNDED Los Angeles $4,000,000 54 3,607,688 Sacramento County $1,929,853 20 667,800 Inglewood $1,000,000 9 109,602 East Palo Alto $898,233 7 23,451 Garden Grove $593,533 6 143,050 Fontana $497,346 5 100,600 Redding $472,315 5 75,000 Moreno Valley $375,000 5 133,706 Fillmore $329,867 3 12,800 Madera $225,000 3 33,027 Manteca $225,000 3 40,004 Santa Cruz $150,000 2 51,458 Ft. Bragg $75,000 1 6,233