Measure A gets police backup

Jackson Bell

While many local top cops push for a measure to increase funds for

law-enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County, some argue that the

proposed sales-tax increase is misguided and blame local politicians

for raiding funds already set aside for that purpose.

Measure A, which needs a two-thirds majority in the Nov. 2

election, could generate an additional $560 million yearly for law

enforcement by raising sales taxes a half-cent to 8.75%.

Supporters -- including Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams, County

Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton -- say

the added funds will help them boost their forces.

Adams expects the money would bring in $9.3 million yearly for his

department, which would go toward a $17.6-million effort to add 100

new officers and 36 full-time civilian workers over the next six

years. The department has about 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents.

Burbank has 1.6 officers per 1,000 residents and Pasadena's ratio is

1.7.

"If [the measure fails and] is unsuccessful, we'll have to look

for other revenue streams and ways to pay for the expansion that is

extremely important to the ongoing safety of the city," Adams said.

"We're the most leanly staffed of any urban police department that

I'm aware of."

"Measure A is extremely important to the city," Adams said. "I

think this will do more to expand the frontline than anything else on

the ballot."

But opponents see the measure as another burden on residents,

since they already pay for police services through several taxes

including those for property and sales.

Furthermore, opponents point out that another measure was already

approved to supply extra money to police. Proposition 172, a

half-cent sales-tax measure passed by voters in 1993, funneled

proceeds to law-enforcement agencies.

Patrick Holland, a retired sheriff department chief who lives in

Glendale, said politicians have diverted the money from police and

instead found a way to pay for other programs it wasn't originally

designated for.

"If they would just put that money back into law enforcement, we

wouldn't need another tax to generate millions more every year,"

Holland said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich was the lone vote

on the board against putting the measure on the ballot.

The measure is unnecessary because with Proposition 172, $400

million from tobacco settlement funds sitting in a reserve account

and other resources could be used instead, Antonovich spokesman Tony

Bell said.

"This is a smoke screen for bad government," Bell said.

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