David R. Hernandez: L.A. mayoral candidate

Since Mayor Villaraigosa called for expanding the Police Department by at least 1,000 officers, 694 have joined the force. Considering that crime continues to be down in Los Angeles, should the hiring go forward even in the face of dramatic budget shortfalls? Or should hiring stop or be slowed until more revenue is available?

In 2003, the number of sworn police officers on the Los Angeles Police Department was 9,189. As of today, the number is now 9,810. The force has increased by 621 new officers while many well experienced and trained officers have left the department. The rate of hire has been on an average of 155 per year.

The current number of gangs in Los Angeles is at 400, with a membership of 41,000. With 348 recruits currently in the Police Academy, we must provide for the resources to insure our investment is protected.

Given the overwhelming number of gang members and other criminal elements now operating in the city, we must make increasing sworn officers a priority.

The LAPD labors under a federal consent decree that arose from years of officer misconduct and scandal. Police disciplinary hearings had historically been open for public review until courts recently ruled that they could be closed under state law. Sen. Gloria Romero has attempted to pass legislation that would reopen misconduct hearings. But police unions strongly oppose it. Do you believe the public has a right to know the names of officers who commit misconduct and the details of their misdeeds? If elected, would you campaign for re-opening police misconduct hearings?

The key to this question is “officers who commit misconduct.” The identity of officers who are convicted of misconduct and or committing a crime is already made public. Those accused are not, as they have not been convicted. In most cases, the allegations against the officers are found to be without merit. In many, they are a tactic currently being used by gangs and other criminal elements to cause harm to the officer and lessen his or her effectiveness. The current makeup of the Police Commission is far to quick to condemn our officers, which explains the recent violation of the Police Officers Bill of Rights and state law by the commission in the so-called “clerical error” that released the 250 names, badge numbers and allegations to the public and press. These officers were not and have not been convicted of any wrongdoing, only accused.

I do believe the public has a right to know when and if an officer is convicted; absolutely not those who are just accused.

I would never jeopardize the public’s safety by turning the misconduct hearings into a political reality show!

Who deserves credit for the steady drop in Los Angeles crime -- the mayor, the police chief or someone else?

Your question’s validity changes week to week. On Jan. 31, 2009, the official Los Angeles Police Department Crime Statistics Snapshot listed violent crime to be at an increase of 5.3%. The most glaring and alarming increases were in the crimes of kidnapping, which was at an increase of 200%; rape at an increase of 13.1%; robbery at an increase of 8.7%; and aggravated assault up 1.5%. One of the other more alarming crime increases was shots into inhabited dwellings, up 66.7%.

Since I have been calling attention to these numbers, the LAPD website quickly changed the Snapshot to reflect drastic decreases in these areas in a short, two-week period. Rape is now listed as being down 12.1%, which would lead us to believe that rapes dropped 25.2% in just 14 days. It also claims aggravated assaults have dropped 6.1% and robbery 2.3% in that same period. Kidnapping is up only 33.3%?

Crime stats go up when the public is not looking but decline when we look closer and question their validity. One stat that has not decreased is the shots into inhabited dwellings; they are now up 92.9%.

The credit for the drop in crime stats should go to the political appointee who sits at the head of the Police Department.

To what extent is it appropriate for a mayor to control the local school district? How well managed was the attempt by the current mayor to make this happen?

The duty of the mayor with regards to the school district is to provide for a safe community around the school. This is more than moving a bus stop closer to school so the gangs and criminal element will have less time to assault and rob the students.

The mayor’s attempt to take over the district (AB1381) was well-managed; however, one small document stood in his way -- the document which protects the constitutional rights of our residents: the state Constitution. He did not attempt to just violate an obscure document in Sacramento; his violated the constitutional rights of every resident in Los Angeles. Once that failed, he then set out to stack the Board of Education with his political henchmen and women. Once the board takeover was complete, he with the help of (all politics are racial) Monica Garcia, set out to politically sabotage Adm. David Brewer. In the end, it is the children who paid the consequences.

Mayor Villaraigosa set out to take over all Los Angeles public schools and now oversees a small percentage of them. Do you believe his efforts have been worthwhile? Do you believe it has made a difference in the way children are being educated?

No and no.