The campaign for a sales tax increase for more police in Los Angeles County used fake headlines and an article from an Arkansas newspaper to make the false claim on its Web site that the Los Angeles crime rate is at a record high, the Los Angeles Times reports. The opening page of the campaign Web site yesterday showed a newspaper article with the headline: “Crime rate at an all-time high. More police needed on streets.” Next to that image appeared another headline: “L.A. Streets no longer safe for children.” Both the headlines were made up and the article, which appeared last year in the Leader newspaper of Jacksonville, Ark., was not about crime but rather transportation planning. Major crime in Los Angeles County and its cities has fallen from record levels in the early 1990s.
Rick Taylor, the consultant running Measure A’s advertising campaign, initially defended the two headlines and article, saying they were meant merely as “a graphic” to illustrate the crime problem and not intended to be taken as actual news. Later, he pulled the material from the site and apologized for the campaign’s use of the misleading headlines and article. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca lamented that, “Crime is not at an all-time high, but it is very high. That’s all you need to say.”