The Los Angeles City Council has approved adding 250 police officers to the understaffed police force, reports the Los Angeles Times. The council moved closer to putting a measure on the May ballot to increase the sales tax to pay for more police. The plan to begin hiring this summer marks the first time in years that a substantial number of officers would join the department. Los Angeles has historically been one of the nation’s most under-policed cities, with about 9,100 officers for 3.8 million residents. Chicago has 13,500 officers for 2.9 million residents.
A November ballot measure that would have boosted the sales tax by a half cent to pay for more police failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote. The council voted 10 to 5 to ask the city attorney to draft another ballot measure for the May 17 general election. Officials estimate the increase would raise $200 million a year and pay for about 1,200 officers. About 25 percent of the funding would be devoted to crime prevention and firefighters and paramedics.