Los Angeles County supervisors agreed yesterday to work with local cities on a November ballot measure to raise the county sales tax to pay for more policing. The board delayed a vote for two weeks to work on thorny issues like how to split the revenue. “There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that law enforcement in this county and in the cities of this county could use additional resources with which to deploy not only more patrols but more targeted suppression of gang violence,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. The five-member Board of Supervisors can put a tax measure on the ballot if it can muster four votes by July 27. If the proposal is placed on the ballot and approved by two thirds of voters, it would raise the county sales tax to 8.75 percent and generate $500 million a year, adding about 5,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
About 40 police chiefs, mayors, and city council members from throughout Los Angeles County attended the meeting to urge that supervisors put the sales tax proposal on the ballot. Mayor James K. Hahn said Los Angeles was woefully under-policed compared with other big cities and that the 1,600 additional officers paid for by the tax measure would make a dramatic difference in public safety. Hahn said the LAPD had half the number of officers per capita as New York City, even though L.A. covered twice the area. “We believe this half-cent sales tax will allow us to reach the tipping point in the fight against crime, to have enough officers to really do the job and not be reactive, but proactive,” he said.