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Mr. Riordan Goes to Washington : A determined mayor wins assurances on funding for more police officers

Mayor Richard Riordan, in a trip to Washington this week, won assurances that Los Angeles will receive U.S. funding for additional police officers. The mayor seemed dead-set on not losing out again. Last year he was stung by the city’s failure to get a coveted federal designation that would have provided millions of dollars to help blighted neighborhoods.

Funds for new police officers across the nation were provided by the 1994 crime bill. Riordan lobbied for the Clinton Administration measure, and he was determined that Los Angeles get its fair share of the 100,000 cops authorized.

Riordan, a Republican, and Los Angeles City Council President John Ferraro met in Washington with Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The mayor also met with Justice Department officials allocating the police officers. Riordan, plugged in to well-connected people in both political parties, has his bases covered.

Riordan needs the federal funds in his struggle to hire 500 police officers this year. Under the bill, Los Angeles could get a couple of hundred cops in 1995 and 1,000 more over the following five or six years.

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Los Angeles, with only 7,812 on its police force, has one of the smallest such departments of any major American city; New York and Chicago have more officers and much less to cover in terms of area. The Los Angeles Police Department clearly needs a boost. As usual, money is the big hurdle.

The deal for the new officers is not yet done. The Justice Department has not allocated all of the money for personnel provided by the crime bill. But Mayor Riordan made his point strongly: Los Angeles must not be left out again.


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