Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso wants 1,500 more officers

If elected mayor, Rick Caruso said on Monday he wants to add 1,500 officers to the Los Angeles Police Department and vowed to place his businesses in a blind trust to avoid possible conflicts of interest during his tenure.

In his first interview with The Times since entering the race last week, Caruso – the billionaire developer of the Grove and Palisades Village shopping malls – gave the first details of how he would seek to govern the city.

He was sharply critical of current office holders, many of whom have supported in the past, saying their policies have made the city a less hospitable place to start a business or raise a family.

“I look at the electorate and I think they are aligned with me,” he said. ” They are afraid. They are frustrated. They are angry with governments. They feel left behind. Leadership has let them down, and they want change and they want hope and they want their kids to be able to walk to school and play in a park without worrying about homeless encampments around them. them and the rise in crime.

His plan to add 1,500 officers to the LAPD puts him in line with City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a rival candidate, who has said he wants to expand the LAPD to 11,000 officers.

The LAPD has about 9,500 officers, down 200 from its authorized strength. Rep. Karen Bass, who has become a trailblazer in the crowded field, wants to move 250 LAPD officers from clerical jobs to patrol and bring the department back to full strength.

“First it’s 11,000 cops, then he’ll clear out the homeless encampments and call back [Dist. Atty.] George Gascón,” said Buscaino campaign strategist Michael Trujillo, alluding to the fact that his client and Caruso have taken several similar positions. “Before you know it, Caruso will write a check to change his name to Joe Buscaino.”

Last month, Buscaino approved the recall effort against Gascón. Caruso didn’t go that far but criticized a man he has known since the early 2000s, when Gascón was a member of the LAPD’s general staff and Caruso was chairman of the police commission.

“George, I think, needs to stand up and say ‘there are some things I’ve done that clearly aren’t working and I’m going to change’,” Caruso said. “If he is not ready to change and if he wants to stay on the road he is following, I am with Charlie Beck, and I think he should resign or be recalled.”

Last week Beck, the former LAPD chief, called off his support for Gascón. Caruso co-hosted a fundraiser for Gascón in February 2020, but later donated $45,000 to a committee supporting the outgoing Dist. Atti. Jackie Lacey, according to campaign finance information.

Caruso’s wealth, listed by Forbes at $4.3 billion, means he hasn’t had to spend time fundraising like other candidates. He declined to say how much he was willing to spend on his campaign.

“You have a new candidate in this race. This candidate is going to spend a lot of money,” former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said over the weekend while campaigning at Pan Pacific Park with Bass, whom he endorsed. “He comes from a part of town where they don’t know the people who are suffering. They don’t know people who are hungry. They have no idea what it’s like to struggle.

Caruso said he would place his business, called Caruso, in a blind trust, meaning he would have no say in its operations or investments. If elected, he added, the company “will not do any new projects in the city of Los Angeles” while he was mayor.

It was unclear when he would step down as head of the company, saying only that “there is a transition that is going to happen.”

“I am not here for anything other than to serve the people of Los Angeles, and I will take all necessary steps to ensure that there is no conflict of interest, not even the appearance of conflict of interest,” Caruso said. He added that he would be willing to work for a dollar a year.

He also said he would appoint an “ethics czar,” noting recent federal indictments of three current or former advisers in corruption cases.

Of his plans to address homelessness, he said “you have to end people living on the streets – period. … It’s not good for the communities in which the homeless camps are located, and it’s not good for the people who are on the streets.

The supply of temporary accommodation must be significantly expanded, Caruso said, calling for the construction of 30,000 new beds in its first year. He did not give details on how he would achieve this.

The businessman, who has never held elected office, was quick to criticize the city council for pursuing a strategy in which members can ban encampments at specific locations in the city. He said there needed to be a cohesive response led by the mayor.

For years, Mayor Eric Garcetti has long called for a “FEMA-style response” to homelessness. And like Bass, and his electoral rivals, including Buscaino and City Atty. Mike Feuer, Caruso invoked an earthquake response as the way the government should respond to the crisis on the streets.

Caruso called the inability to house people a management problem and not necessarily a lack of resources.

He said he wanted to better understand the relationship between the city and the county, which has long reached out to the most psychologically vulnerable streets through the Department of Mental Health. He said something similar about the city’s relationship with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

“Money is not the problem,” he said. “We have more money than the system knows what to do with. It’s the management that’s the problem, and all those who run it never held a leadership position.

Los Angeles Times

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