As President of the Police Commission, Rick increased public safety, reduced crime, and fought corruption. Rick took over leadership of LAPD during a period of turmoil for the LAPD, with the Department operating under a federal consent decree. Caruso restored public trust in the LAPD, especially in the most diverse neighborhoods, and among those areas most impacted by crime. In partnership with LAPD officers, City leadership, and community members Rick oversaw a 30 percent reduction in crime, fought for community policing and police accountability and stood up to political pressure when he hired Chief William Bratton.
Don’t Defund the Police, Invest in Improvements
LAPD can and will do better during a Caruso administration, but we must first acknowledge that attacks on rank-and-file officers cast too wide of a net and are often misleading. The vast majority of LAPD is committed to good work that makes our city safer, often putting their safety on the line to protect Angelenos. LA is the most under-policed big city in America. We cannot stand for the misdirected slogan of “defunding the police” in a city where murders are on the rise at alarming rates and hate crimes continue to increase. We need to invest in more training, both to reduce unnecessary use of force incidents and to eliminate any elements of unconscious bias. When an emergency strikes, we all want our first responders to arrive quickly and to save lives. We need to foster a culture that respects and shows gratitude to our first responders, along with a constant and firm demand for integrity , fair treatment, and professionalism.
As Mayor, Rick Will:
- Right size LAPD’s Budget to expand the number of community-based patrol officers with more hiring, civilianization of non-essential sworn positions, and a commitment to more training and diversified recruitment.
- Expand Community-Based Policing. As Chief Bratton showed us, community-based policing is the best way to increase safety and restore trust in LAPD. Rick will increase community-based policing through hiring more senior lead officers who will work hand-in-hand with community groups and neighborhood leaders to prevent crime. These partnerships between LAPD and communities build trust and ensure each neighborhood has police officers that reflect their values and demographics. Police officers who know their neighborhoods will also help fight homelessness, intervening before community members become homeless and ensuring that encampments don’t claim sidewalks, parks and other public space.
- Put 1,500 New Officers on the Street. The LAPD is the smallest police force per capita in a major US city, and that must change. Rick will add 1,500 officers to LAPD before the end of his first term through recruitment of applicants that reflect our city, through diversification of roles, and through expanded training that attracts high-caliber candidates. Rick’s administration will apply for every federal and state grant available to support safety in LA. We will work through the Biden administration and Governor Newsom to secure direct funding that will help expand and strengthen our police force, train our officers, and increase engagement with the communities they serve.
Address Gun Violence
Gun violence is out of control in Los Angeles. The city recorded 397 murders in 2021, the highest total in almost 15 years — a 53% increase from 2019 levels.1In one year, homicides, car theft, and robberies at gunpoint are all up by double digit percentages2. More than half (54%) of the city’s shootings were related to gang violence, and homicides of the homeless increased 22%. “Robberies with a firearm increased 21% citywide last year, with LAPD’s central bureau logging the largest increase of 37%.”3
It’s no surprise that many of the additional 1.17 million firearms registered in California during the pandemic are falling into the wrong hands. We must address this systemic issue, and we need to go further than just addressing the ‘supply’ side of gun violence, we need to address the ‘demand-side’ and do more to focus on stopping repeat offenders in high-crime areas.
As Mayor, Rick Will:
- Crack Down on Gun Trafficking and illegal manufacturing of “ghost guns” and rifles that are flooding our streets with untraceable, illegal high-powered rifles meant for war.
- Expand the LAPD Gun Unit and insist on a more coordinated approach to gun violence through partnerships with ATF, FBI, and Homeland Security.
- Employ ‘Precision Policing’ Strategies to concentrate resources around the worst offenders and high-crime areas to address the ‘demand-side’ of the problem. This strategy worked in New York, where the NYPD’s shift to a surgical form of “precision policing ”focused resources on a small number of individuals who are thought to be the primary drivers of violence.
- Expand Laws Around Safe Storage of weapons in homes with real penalties if violated, especially in homes with children. Eight children died last year due to improperly stored guns. Los Angeles must do more to ensure gun owners are trained in effective and safe storage and face real consequences if those rules are not followed.
- Get Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers. We will double down on efforts to take guns away from unsuitable owners who are a known risk. The Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS) program is a great template program, giving local authorities a way to remove firearms from individuals who have lost their right to bear arms because of violent crimes, serious mental health issues or active restraining orders.
Stop Property Crime
The endless headlines around “smash and grab” robberies highlight the lack of consequences for criminals who deliberately break our laws. We all see, feel, and know firsthand that property crime is not being prosecuted. Our neighbors’ homes have been burglarized, we have had our cars broken into, or worse yet, stolen. We need to make sure there are consequences and fair repercussions for those who break the law.
Just a snapshot of how serious crime is when it comes to car theft: “the last quarter of 2021 brought more stolen car reports than any period in the past 12 years” 4.
As Mayor, Rick Will Advocate for and Implement:
- Fixing Prop 47. This proposition went too far – the $950 minimum for felony charges per incident needs to be re-examined, especially in the case of repeat offenders.
- Prosecuting Misdemeanors. Rick will work closely with the City Attorney to prosecute misdemeanors. Having an elected City Attorney shouldn’t mean that they can selectively enforce some laws and not others. Criminals should know that crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony, will be prosecuted.
- Advocating for Reform at the State and County Levels, especially for juveniles and those with mental health or addiction issues. Rick believes in second chances, and we should invest more in rehabilitating our offenders both during and after incarceration. Prison should not be a place for criminals to hone their skills or become hardened. Prison should be a place where we do all we can to rehabilitate those who have lost their way, not lock them up and forget about them until they are released.
Address Link between Mental Health and Crime
The data doesn’t lie: we know that those suffering from mental health and addiction are more likely to commit crimes and are more likely to be victims of crimes. According to publicly available LAPD crime data, there is a trend of rising crime involving the mentally ill in the City of Los Angeles. Crimes involving the mentally ill have increased 338% from 2010 to 2018.5
The homelessness crisis is one reason why we’ve failed to take on this connected problem. We can do more to build a system that recognizes the clear link between crime and our broken mental health system. Rick will lead with services and housing to support those with severe mental illness and substance abuse disorder.
As Mayor, Rick Will:
- Build and Grow Alternative Response Systems.
- The tragedies associated with deploying police officers in response to acute mental health crises are well documented. The deployment of specialized first responders to manage and deescalate mental health crises will improve our City’s crisis response, meeting those in need with expertise and on-the-ground treatment. This will also free up LAPD officers to focus on keeping LA safe.
- Hire Mental Health Workers to Respond to 911 Calls. Hire mental health first responders to join our Police and Fire units on calls. Their expertise on-the-ground helps ensure that mental health issues are treated humanely, without unnecessary use of force. Promote the use of 988 for mental health calls and ensure that it is adequately staffed and well operated.
- Transform Juvenile Detention Centers into Mental Health Justice Centers. Incarcerated juveniles and adults suffer high rates of diagnosable mental health issues. Addressing the root cause of individuals’ incarceration could significantly improve public safety and reduce the high costs and ineffective outcomes of incarceration. Mental health justice centers would serve those inside and outside of the criminal justice system and would provide supportive treatment with a focus on rehabilitating individuals to prevent additional crime, as opposed to using punishment as a deterrence mechanism.
Expand Prevention Programs that Work
Evidence shows that violence prevention programs work. To maximize success, we need to equip communities with evidence-based, comprehensive, trauma-informed approaches that address the multiple factors that impact violence. Perhaps most importantly, any effective program must help those most affected by violence: children, youth, and families.
As Mayor, Rick Will:
- Double the Number of Gang Prevention Workers. Dedicating resources to gang intervention agencies that deploy peacemakers throughout Los Angeles will increase public safety and community wellbeing, especially in heavily impacted communities. Rick believes in listening to and taking direction from local citizens, community leaders, and the experts on the field.
- Increase Reentry Programs and Half-way Houses. Lack of quality housing options stand in the way of many formerly incarcerated individuals looking to reenter society. The scope of reentry should not be limited to room and board, but rather include considerations about ex-offenders’ risks and needs. We must monitor and readjust individual release plans based on each person’s needs. Rick believes in setting everyone up for success, and treating ex-offenders with respect.
- Expand Youth Prevention and Afterschool Programs. Rick believes in tackling societal issues at the root and taking collective responsibility for building and implementing holistic solutions, especially for our young people. Afterschool programs and mentorship are proven to reduce the risk of joining a gang by addressing the youth at the individual, family, and peer levels. When combined with increasing protective factors against joining a gang, we can reduce the number of youth engaging in violent behaviors and substance abuse.
Restore the 2009 Budget Cuts
In 2009, the City of Los Angeles, under the leadership of Antonio Villaraigosa and Eric Garcetti, made devastating cuts to the Los Angeles Fire Department, resulting in “brownouts” where entire areas of the City were reduced to barebones engine company coverage.
Since that time, those cuts have not been fully restored and the Department has not been made whole. Despite record budget surpluses and revenues, elected officials have made the call, time and time again, to leave our residents and firefighters at risk.
Rick will restore these cuts and make the Department whole. Rick will ensure the City has the means to return to 2008 staffing levels and hire more Firefighters and Paramedics to reduce 911 wait times and provide maximum coverage so that our residents are safe. The men and women of the LAFD provide exceptional fire protection and emergency medical services and should be resourced with everything they need to keep our city safe.
2 Deadly shootings involving LAPD officers were up 142.9%, homicides increased 11.8% and motor vehicle thefts also rose 13.3% last year compared with 2020. [link]
3 Jan 2022 [link]