LOS ANGELES—The union representing officers at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Feb. 24 announced its endorsement of real estate developer Rick Caruso for mayor of Los Angeles.
The endorsement from the Los Angeles Police Protective League was given after Caruso earned the unanimous support of its member-based Political Action Committee and unanimous vote of its Board of Directors, according to the union.
Caruso was the president of the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission from 2001 to 2003 after being appointed by former Mayor James K. Hahn.
“We are pleased to announce our unanimous vote to endorse Rick Caruso for mayor,” said Lt. Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “We believe that the people of Los Angeles and the members of the LAPD agree: Our approach to public safety needs to change. Rick is not a typical politician and we believe that he can fix L.A.”
On Feb. 15, Caruso announced his public safety plan, which included adding 1,500 officers to the LAPD’s force if elected mayor.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s current personnel number stands at 9,521 sworn members, 185 fewer than its authorized deployment for the fiscal year.
An additional 1,500 officers would put the department at just over 11,000 officers, the number called for by mayoral candidate and LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who used to be an LAPD officer. City Attorney Mike Feuer has said as part of his campaign for mayor that the department should expand to at least 10,000 officers, and Rep. Karen Bass said that if elected mayor she would bring the department to its authorized levels of 9,700 officers by hiring civilian personnel to move desk officers to patrol.
The LAPD is already seeking additional funding in the next fiscal year that would restore staffing levels to 9,800 sworn officers.
The calls for more police from the candidates have been criticized by some community activists who have called for a vast scaling back of law enforcement in response to much-publicized incidents of police brutality, most notably the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Activists calling for a re-imagining of public safety have called attention to the LAPD’s budget of $1.761 billion, which is higher than any other city department.
Advocates for reducing police budgets call for the money to be invested into communities and programs that they argue prevent crime, including by addressing poverty and mental health issues.
On his campaign website launched on Feb. 22, Caruso said he would increase the department’s budget and said the idea to reduce police budgets “makes no sense when you consider that murders are skyrocketing and L.A. is the most under-policed big city in America.”
Los Angeles had a nearly 12 percent year-over-year climb in homicides in 2021, bringing it to levels not seen since 2006. Violent crime increased 3.9 percent and property crimes rose by 4.2 percent. The number of people shot rose by 9 percent.
Other major cities across the United States also experienced major increases in violent crime, and many of the cities had sharper increases than Los Angeles.