For the first time in the city’s history, Los Angeles’ police force now exceeds 10,000 officers, reports the Los Angeles Times. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the department is budgeted for 10,023 officers, up from the 9,963 authorized over the last three years, during a deep budget crisis. Some questioned the significance of the staffing milestone, since the overall number of sworn officers employed by the city hasn’t grown.
“It’s an increase for show,” said Kevin James, a candidate for mayor in the March 5 election who has questioned Villaraigosa’s LAPD hiring goals. “The mayor really wanted to get to 10,000 one way or the other before he left office, and this was the way he could do it under the current budget constraints.” Los Angeles experienced a 10.5 percent decrease in gang crime and an 8.2 percent drop in violent crime last year, compared with 2011. The city had the lowest number of violent crimes per capita of any major city, including New York and Chicago, Villaraigosa said. The mayor attributed those numbers — and a decade-long decline in crime — in large part to the expansion of the police force.