The Los Angeles Police Department can be forgiven for feeling very confused by Tuesday's election. Poll after poll says that crime is the No. 1 issue on voter's minds. It's No. 1 on the agenda for anyone seeking elected office. And there are so many blue ribbons around town these days (worn in support of the LAPD) that a stranger might wonder who had awarded all the first prizes.
But where is all of that sentiment when votes are needed to help the LAPD do a better job? The latest disappointment came Tuesday, when Proposition 1, the police facilities bond issue, went down to defeat.
About 62% of those who did vote favored the bond that would have built new stations in the San Fernando Valley and Mid-Wilshire areas, and in the Rampart and Hollenbeck divisions. But a two-thirds majority was needed. By contrast, the election measure to streamline police disciplinary procedures sailed through with 80% of the vote.
Doesn't anyone realize that the LAPD's infrastructure needs have been neglected for a decade or more?
You've heard about the faulty handcuffs, the lack of computers, patrol cars so old they stall in parades. Well, we also have aging police stations, built for 97 to 260 officers, holding between 210 and 328 officers. And new hires will raise the numbers to 273 and 431 officers. We have police helicopters so overworked that they far exceed industry standards for flight hours. So far, there is no money to replace them.
This didn't happen overnight, and the solutions will take time. But the situation, and police morale, will only get worse if the city as a whole fails to recognize that it has allowed the LAPD to sink into slow ruin.
But there was also good news in this election.
The vote to streamline police disciplinary procedures will benefit police and citizens alike by ensuring due process and by allowing the chief to exercise discretion in punishing problem officers.
In this new era of term limits, it will be best if the winning, first-time candidate can enter office with a confidence-building victory. Mike Feuer certainly has that with his landslide win in the race to fill the Los Angeles City Council's Fifth District seat. Now, he should tackle the job with the same zeal he showed in his campaign.
The race for the Fifth District seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education was too close to call, with just two dozen or so votes separating David Tokofsky and Lucia Rivera. It is the closeness of that vote, as well as the strong credentials of both candidates, that should encourage them to work together for the good of the district, regardless of the outcome. As we said in our editorial endorsing Tokofsky, it was very hard to choose between them; evidently voters had the same reaction. Whoever winds up the winner by a few votes no doubt will do a great job.