A Safe Los Angeles - For Everyone

Every Angeleno deserves to feel safe – at home, at work, on the road, and in parks, libraries, and other public spaces in our great City. But escalating gun violence, brazen smash-and-grabs, follow-home robberies, and unsafe conditions for transit riders have put all Angelenos on edge. Preventing crime and restoring safety to our neighborhoods is the primary responsibility of the City Council. We cannot re-build Los Angeles into a world-class city that is vibrant, healthy, green, and equitable unless Los Angeles is both safe for all and policed properly.

I do not support defunding the police. This is a binary slogan for a non-binary issue. We can both increase the number of officers in Los Angeles in our efforts to lower crime and work to reform and restructure the way our City is policed. I am the only candidate in this race who will advance effective, common sense policies so that everyone – including communities who have historically had reasons to distrust law enforcement  feels safer in Los Angeles.

As a former Los Angeles City Commissioner who served on our City Attorney’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and as a person of color and father of four young kids who chaired his neighborhood association’s public safety committee, I am laser-focused on making every neighborhood, and every Angeleno, in the 5th District safer. 

Here’s how we do it together:

1. Rebuilding Our Depleted Police Force and Getting More Police Officers On Patrol

When I served under Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles had 10,000 sworn LAPD officers. While City Hall has authorized a force of 9,700 sworn LAPD officers, we currently have only 9,410, as of 2021, and too many of those LAPD officers are responding to homelessness calls or even behind a desk doing administrative work. According to a 2016 audit by City Controller Ron Galperin, 460 armed sworn LAPD officers are performing desk jobs that could be performed appropriately and less expensively by civilian City employees, such as maintaining records, managing equipment, and responding to subpoenas. 

As Councilmember, I will advance the following priorities:

  • I support rebuilding LAPD to its full authorized 10,000 officer force under Mayor Villaraigosa. Additional police resources will help deter and prevent crimes, improve emergency response times, and provide LAPD the added flexibility to address crime hot spots and trends.
  • With only 55% of murders being solved in 2020, funding should also be prioritized towards solving violent crimes. It is imperative that our law enforcement has the resources, personnel, partners, and tools needed to deliver effective law enforcement and comprehensive community safety.
  • I will work with LAPD leadership to immediately transition sworn officers from behind desks to patrolling our neighborhoods, where they can better protect and serve Angelenos. This is the fastest and most cost-effective path to increasing police officer deployment right now to neighborhoods requesting increased police presence.

2. Prioritizing Responsibilities of the Los Angeles Police Department

While the number of sworn LAPD officers has decreased in recent years, police responsibilities have ballooned. We have tasked armed sworn police officers with being the first responders to virtually every issue in our City – from mental health crises and homelessness calls to noise complaints and crowd control. Every year, the LAPD receives more than 140,000 calls related to homelessness alone. More than 90% of calls to LAPD involve non-violent incidents, which in most cases do not require an armed response.

As Councilmember, I will expand crisis intervention teams (composed of trained social workers and mental health professionals) who will join and assist a smaller cadre of LAPD officers as first responders to non-violent incidents, such as contacts with mentally ill people experiencing homelessness. This will free up LAPD officers to tackle the core police work for which they are trained.

3. Better Policing Through Better Recruiting, Training, Oversight, Accountability, and Community Partnerships

As we rebuild the LAPD force, it is equally imperative that we invest in meaningful police reforms.

This includes:

  • Continuing to recruit a diverse police force that builds on its current diversity (approximately 70% of LAPD officers are women or people of color).
  • Increased training requirements and robust accountability for any police misconduct, which on average costs the City $50 million per year in adverse legal settlements and judgments.
  • Additional training that prioritizes de-escalating confrontations whenever possible. 
  • Robust civilian oversight that earns the trust of every 5th District resident that LAPD serves.

4. Tackling Our City’s Mental Health and Addiction Crises with Urgency, Compassion, and Common Sense

We cannot talk about public safety without talking about the mental health and addiction crises currently devastating Los Angeles. A growing population of Angelenos are suffering from significant issues of untreated mental health and addiction. These crises contribute to the increase of homelessness and crime in our City and overburden our already taxed LAPD, LAFD, and hospitals. 

To address these crises, I will:

  • Incentivize and streamline the construction and conversion of mental health care facilities throughout Los Angeles.
  • Allocate more resources to proven non-profit organizations that can offer personalized treatment and care for those suffering from mental health and addiction issues.
  • Advocate for common sense reforms to California’s out-dated mental health and conservatorship laws.
  • Hire more mental health professionals to join crisis intervention teams.

For more on how I will address these crises, please visit https://samforla.com/homelessness.

5. Reducing Gun Violence

Shootings and homicides in Los Angeles are now at their highest point in two decades. One of my top priorities will be to prevent anyone who is prohibited from owning a gun from having one.

As Councilmember, I will also:

  • Increase investments in gun buyback and anti-gun trafficking initiatives to get guns off our streets.
  • Fight to ensure our City’s recent laws banning ghost and other illegal untraceable guns are actually enforced, including bringing charges against people who use ghost guns and people who sell or transfer guns used in violent crime and expanding the LAPD’s Gun Unit.

6. Investing in Under-Served Communities, Community Policing, and Neighborhood-Based Problem-Solving Strategies

Community safety begins at the neighborhood level. Community investments have proven successful in preventing crime and uplifting communities.

As Councilmember, I will support:

  • Investments in violence prevention, interruption, and intervention programs. These include gang prevention initiatives, after-school programs, job training and assistance, and mental healthcare and addiction resources.
  • Empowering Neighborhood Prosecutors and providing funding to Senior Lead Officers to work with local communities to develop neighborhood-specific crime prevention and community safety programs.

7. Prioritizing Hate Crime Enforcement and Prevention

Los Angeles recorded the most hate crimes among major American cities in 2021, posting a 71% jump in incidents – including a steep rise in anti-Asian, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ violence. Hate crimes terrorize not just the victim but an entire community.

I will prioritize hate crime enforcement within the LAPD and demand that our District Attorney prosecute perpetrators with hate crimes enhancements when warranted, like I did as part of a coalition who advocated for hate crime enhancements against the perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence in the 5th District in 2021. As an accomplished non-profit leader and former board member of the Anti-Defamation League, I will also work with community partners to encourage hate crime reporting among immigrant and minority communities and to invest in diverse educational programming and deepen interfaith and inter-community partnerships.

8. Additional Public Safety Measures:

  • Modernizing and Enhancing LAPD’s Use of Technology. We must invest in updating LAPD’s technological capacities, which are lagging and cause inefficiencies. I support increasing the use of closed-circuit cameras in high-crime locations and in sensitive public spaces, such as the seven Purple Line Subway Stations that are being built in or near the 5th District. Los Angeles lags far behind other major cities (such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Denver) in per capita deployment of cameras. Effectively placed cameras can help deter and solve crime.

  • Enhancing Pedestrian, Cyclist, and Traffic Safety. Community safety also means making sure our pedestrians, cyclists, and streets are safe through responsive and effective traffic mitigation efforts, infrastructure repairs and upgrades, and appropriate mobility lanes. I will also confront the dangerous rise in street car racing and “street take-overs” that we have seen throughout the 5th District. I will work with City Departments to reduce speed limits in certain areas and increase enforcement and penalties for these troubling crimes.

  • Supporting the Fire Prevention, Fire Safety, and Emergency Services of the Los Angeles Fire Department. I will ensure the Los Angeles Fire Department has the funds, equipment, and technology that it needs to protect against fire, health, and emergency risks that face the 5th District, including high-risk wildfire areas and the aging wells that pump oil and gas under our homes and schools every single day.

  • Reducing Blight. Finally, our streets, parks, and sidewalks have become increasingly filthy. Studies show that when communities are cleaned up, crime goes down. I will invest my office’s discretionary funds and work with City Departments and local stakeholders to make sure that our streets are clean, neighborhoods are beautified, and blight is mitigated in every neighborhood of the 5th District.