Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says he will stick to his plan to add hundreds of officers to the Los Angeles Police Department “no matter what the cost,” at a time when the city faces deep cuts in other services and potential layoffs of municipal workers, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Villaraigosa administration is halfway to its goal of expanding the department by 1,000 officers. The department is on pace to reach 10,000 officers by June 2009. At the same time the city faces a budget deficit of at least $400 million.
Villaraigosa, noting that crime rates have dropped to their lowest levels in more than half a century, insisted that prosperity in Los Angeles was tied directly to a safe city. He acknowledged that the police expansion was likely to mean “significant cuts to other very worthy programs” and that “layoffs will be on the table as one of the options” to balance the budget. Police training academies are full. A string of unusually large classes will begin graduating this spring, adding about 70 officers to the department monthly.