The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will let voters decide whether to increase the county’s sales tax by one-half percent to fund law enforcement, reports the Whittier Daily News. Local police chiefs applaud the move. If approved Nov. 2, the measure would generate $560 million per year, beginning in the 2005-06 fiscal year. The initiative would increase the sales tax from 8.25 to 8.75 percent — the highest it can go by law. The money would be divided among the 88 cities in Los Angeles County, using a formula that takes into account the population and the public safety budget of each city. It would allow law enforcement departments to hire 5,000 new police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
District Attorney Steve Cooley called it a “bad deal” for his office, saying some money he was originally offered is now going to the Probation Department, Public Defender’s Office, and Alternative Public Defender. Under the current proposal, Cooley would get $20 million to hire more prosecutors. Cooley said his office would be heavily affected by the large number of arrests the extra law enforcement officers would make. “The resultant caseload increase for my office predictably will be enormous,” Cooley said. “It’s beyond a bad deal for the district attorney.” The extra money would allow Whittier to hire more detectives –something it has not been able to do since 1977.