Los Angeles Police Chief Chief William Bratton says the city’s historic five-year drop in crime could be threatened if voters don’t approve a February ballot measure extending a telephone utility users tax, reports the Los Angeles Times. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he would protect the police department from cuts and press on with the goal of adding 1,000 officers by 2010. Bratton believes serious crime, down nearly 5 percent in 2007, could fall another 5 percent this year if the police department doesn’t see any more cutbacks. Bratton has not decided on a formal crime-reduction goal, in part because of uncertainty over the pending vote.
Bratton and Villaraigosa held a news conference to announce another year of falling crime numbers. The city in 2007 recorded the fewest homicides in 37 years, 392, down from 476 the year before. Kris Vosburgh of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is skeptical that the city, in the event of cutbacks, would trim police officers before parking enforcement personnel or tree trimmers. “Officials always threaten what the public values most when they are trying to get more of the taxpayers’ money,” he said.