by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Police Department Chief William J. Bratton announced that they are recruiting an additional 1,000 new police officers despite budgetary concerns expressed by the City Council.
“The recruitment of more police officers is the number one priority of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,” Bratton told the Asian Pacific Islander Community Forum held at the Empress Pavilion Restaurant in Chinatown on Tuesday, November 13.
“The recruitment will continue unimpeded, and we expect to have a 9,800 police officers by June or July next year,” Bratton added. The department’s goal is to have a 10,000-strong officer corps.
Bratton, who was recently re-appointed to 5-year tenure, also announced that the LAPD would follow through on programs that were started during his first term. “We will continue to reduce crimes in the city,” he said. “We will get the consent decree implemented, and we will assure that this city has the most robust anti-terrorism entities in the United States.”
“Violent crimes are down dramatically in the city and homicide is in its 35-year low,” Bratton said. “This due to the hard-working men in the LAPD and to your communities.”
“We need more young men and women from your community to work with the department, and we promise you that we will welcome them with open arms,” Bratton said. Presently, only about 8 per cent of LAPD’s force come from Asian Pacific Islander communities, Bratton revealed.
Bratton announced that in 2008, the LAPD would open its 20th police station. “The 20th police station over at Koreatown will allow us to put more officers on patrol in that portion of the city,” Bratton said. Although the perimeters and boundaries of that station are still being mapped out, the 20th station is now under construction and expected to open next year. It will be headed by Captain Mathew Blake of the West Los Angeles Area Station. The LAPD also opened one station in the San Fernando Valley, and the LAPD headquarters in downtown–Parker Station–would reopen soon after a $400 million refurbish.
Chief Bratton also announced that the Police Commission approved the installation of video cameras in all the vehicles of LAPD to give the officers the best equipment to work with. “We are constantly working at improving our training methods, and this is an area where you can help us with.”
In the open forum, business and church leaders in Chinatown asked Bratton if a foot beat could be reinstated in that district citing many crimes go unreported because of cultural reasons and language barriers.
Bratton replied that Chinatown has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. “It is really up to you to work with us so that we can serve you better. We cannot do it alone. We want you to encourage your young men and women to come to us,” Bratton pleaded. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Bratton said.
“If you make this your number one priority, we will make this the safest city in America. That’s our promise, our commitment and our goal,” Bratton said.
LAPD Assistant Chief Michael Downing addressed the controversy that arose with the department’s plan that would map Muslim communities that was announced last week.
“Unfortunately, the media has distorted the plan as an attempt at profiling. It was an unfortunate misuse of a word. We recognize that error, and now we have decided to call it engagement, an outreach effort by which we could determine what kind of services these communities actually need, and whether the department is providing these services or not,” Downing said.
Yun-Sook Kim Navarre, a Joseph Ileto Hate Crimes Prevention Coordinator of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) gave his two-cents worth on the issue.
“There is a need for better representation and dialog for these communities of color, especially those with limited English-speaking abilities. There is a concern that some of these already isolated communities living under the gun may be unlawfully profiled, or that they may have their rights violated,” Navarre said.
“In response to the alleged profiling, I think it is problematic to broadly link a religion such as Islam with all Muslims– people who come from all countries, all races, and socio-economic backgrounds—with terrorism and with anti-American sentiments,” Navarre added. “I don’t think that any other religion would have been placed in that same spot; we wouldn’t do that to the Catholic community; we wouldn’t do that to the Baptist community. We don’t want this to turn into an anti-immigrant xenophobia or discrimination based on national origin.” (www.asianjournal.com)