Public Safety

Read Rick Caruso’s detailed plan to cut crime, make our communities safer from gun violence, and force real reform in LA.

As President of the Police Commission, Rick cut crime, fought corruption and stood up to political pressure to force real reform. He came to the presidency at a time of great turmoil for the LAPD with the Department operating under a federal consent decree. Caruso restored public trust in the LAPD, especially among Black, Asian and Latino Angelenos. Rick oversaw a 30 percent reduction in crime, fought for community policing and police accountability and stood up to political pressure when he hired Chief William Bratton, who is remembered as the most transformational figure in the history of policing in the City of Los Angeles.

Don’t Defund the Police, Invest in Making Them Better

There is no doubt that our police force can do better, but the attacks on rank-and-file officers must stop. The men and women of the LAPD risk their lives on a daily basis. Rhetoric about “defunding the police” makes no sense when you consider that murders are skyrocketing and LA is the most under-policed big city in America. Yes, we need to invest in more training, both to reduce unnecessary use of force incidents and to eliminate any elements of unconscious bias. But when an emergency strikes, we all want our first responders to arrive quickly and to save lives, and we need to show our support for them with respect and gratitude, along with a constant and firm demand for excellence, fair treatment, and world class professionalism. 

As Mayor, Rick Will:

  • Restore the LAPD’s Budget that our cowardly City Council defunded and expand the number of patrol officers with more hiring, civilianization of non-essential sworn positions, and a commitment to more training and diversified recruitment. 
  • Return to Community-Based Policing. As Bill Bratton showed us, community-based policing is the way to reduce crime and restore trust. Rick will make sure the LAPD returns to community-based policing with more senior lead officers working hand in hand with community groups and neighborhood leaders to build trust and ensure the communities who need it the most have police officers who reflect their values and demographics. Police officers who know their neighborhoods will also help fight homelessness – by being able to create early warning systems so that encampments don’t get out of control. 
  • Put 1,500 New Officers on the Street. The LAPD is the smallest big city police force per capita in the US and that must change. Rick will add 1,500 officers to our force before the end of his first term. Rick’s administration will apply for every federal and state grant there is and even demand more direct funding from the Biden administration and Governor Newsom to expand and strengthen our police force and ensure they are trained properly and engaged with the communities they serve.

Address the Crisis of Gun Violence

Gun violence is out of control in Los Angeles.  The city recorded 397 murders in 2021, the highest total in almost 15 years — and a 53% increase from 2019 levels.1

In one year, homicides, car theft, and robberies at gunpoint are all up by double digits2. More than half (54%) of the city’s shootings were related to gang violence, and homicides of the homeless increased 22%. “Robberies with a firearm increased 21% citywide last year, with LAPD’s central bureau logging the largest increase of 37%.”3

Chart credit: Crosstown LA

It’s no surprise that with the additional 1.17 million firearms registered in California during the pandemic that many of those guns are falling into the wrong hands or being used by people who have no training or respect for the weapons they purchased. We must address this systemic issue. And we need to go further than addressing the ‘supply’ side of gun violence; we need to address the ‘demand-side’, too – and do more to focus on repeat offenders and high-crime areas. 

As Mayor, Rick Will:

  • Crack Down on Gun Trafficking and illegal manufacturing of “ghost guns” and 80% rifles that are flooding our streets with untraceable and illegal high-powered rifles that are weapons of war.
  • Expand the LAPD Gun Unit and insist on a more coordinated approach to gun violence with partnerships with ATF, the FBI, and Homeland Security. 
  • Employ ‘Precision Policing’ Strategies to concentrate resources around the worst offenders and high-crime areas to address the ‘demand-side’ of the problem. It’s worked elsewhere – for example, in New York, the NYPD’s shift to a surgical form of “precision policing,” in which law enforcement focuses resources on a small number of individuals2 who are thought to be the primary drivers of violence. 
  • Expand Laws Around Safe Storage of weapons in homes with real penalties if violated, especially in homes with children. Eight children died last year due to improperly stored guns and we must do more to ensure gun owners are trained in effective and safe storage and face real consequences if those rules are not followed.
  • Get Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers. We will double down on efforts to take guns away from those deemed too much of a risk to own them, such as the Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS) program which gives local authorities a way to remove firearms from individuals who’d lost their right to bear them because of violent crimes, serious mental health issues or active restraining orders.

Crack Down on Property Crime – Create Consequences not Excuses

The endless headlines around “smash and grab” robberies around the holidays only highlighted the lack of any real consequences for those who deliberately flout our laws. We all see, feel, and know firsthand that property crime is not being adequately enforced. We’ve all seen our neighbors’ homes burglarized or have had our cars broken into, or worse yet, stolen. We need to make sure there are consequences and fair repercussions for those who break the law. 

Chart credit: Crosstown LA

Just a snapshot of how bad it’s gotten, specifically, when it comes to car theft: “the last quarter of 2021 brought more stolen car reports than any time in the past 12 years” 4.

As Mayor, Rick Will Advocate for and Implement:

  • Fixing Prop 47. This proposition went too far – the $950 minimum for felony charges per incident needs to be brought back to a sensible level. We can all agree that stealing a $900 handbag or watch shouldn’t be an offense for which someone is released from custody within hours of being arrested without consequence. 
  • Prosecuting Misdemeanors. Rick will immediately make it mandatory for the City Attorney to prosecute misdemeanors. Having an elected City Attorney shouldn’t mean they can selectively enforce some laws and not others. Criminals should know that any crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony, will be prosecuted.
  • Advocating for Reform at the State and County Levels, especially around juveniles and those with mental health or addiction issues. Rick believes in second chances, and we should invest more in rehabilitating our offenders both during and after incarceration. Prison should not be a place for criminals to hone their skills or become hardened. Prison should be a place where we do all we can to rehabilitate those who have lost their way, not lock them and forget about them until they are released.

The data doesn’t lie: we know that those suffering from mental health and addiction are more likely to commit crimes and are more likely to be victims of crimes. The homelessness crisis is one reason why we’ve failed to take on this connected problem; but we can do more to build a system that recognizes and does better to address the clear link between crime and our broken mental health system. 

According to publicly available LAPD crime data, there is a trend of rising crime involving the mentally ill in the City of Los Angeles. Crimes involving the mentally ill have increased 338% from 2010 to 2018.5

Chart credit: Crosstown LA

As Mayor, Rick Will:

  • Build and Grow Alternative Response Systems. The deployment of support that’s especially geared towards managing and de-escalating mental health crises will allow for a more appropriate crisis response and will free up our officers to do the work they were trained to do. In the State of California, the tragedies associated with deploying police officers to respond to an acute mental health crisis are well documented. Rick believes in protecting families, individuals suffering mental health crises, and officers from negative outcomes they’re poorly equipped to prevent. 
  • Have Mental Health Workers Respond to 911 Calls. Hire mental health first responders to join our Police and Fire units on calls to ensure those with mental health issues are treated humanely and without unnecessary use of force incidents 
  • Transform Juvenile Detention Centers into Mental Health Justice Centers. In recognition of the disproportionately high rates of diagnosable mental health issues amongst incarcerated juveniles and adults, addressing the root cause of individuals’ incarceration could significantly improve public safety and reduce the high costs of incarceration. Mental health justice centers would serve those inside and outside of the criminal justice system and would provide a wide array of treatment options (short term and long term), with a focus on treating and rehabilitating individuals to prevent crimes before they’re committed, as opposed to using punishment as a deterrence mechanism. 

Expand Prevention Programs that Work

Evidence shows that violence prevention programs work. To maximize success, we need to equip communities with evidence-based, comprehensive, trauma-informed approaches that address the multiple factors that impact violence. Perhaps most importantly, any effective program has to help those most affected by violence – children, youth, and families. 

As Mayor, Rick Will:

  • Double the Number of Gang Prevention Workers. Dedicating resources to gang intervention agencies that deploy peacemakers throughout Los Angeles will increase public safety and community wellbeing, especially in communities of color. Rick believes in listening to local citizens, community leaders, and the experts on the field. 
  • Increase Reentry Programs and Half-way Houses. Lack of quality housing options stands in the way of many formerly incarcerated individuals looking to reenter society. The scope of quality should not be limited to room and board, but rather include considerations about ex-offenders’ risks and needs and the need for consistent development, monitoring, and readjustment of individualized release plans. Rick believes in setting everyone – with the disposition to do their part – up for success, and treating ex-offenders as multi-faceted individuals is crucial to improving public safety for all. 
  • Expand Youth Prevention and Afterschool Programs. Rick believes in tackling societal issues at the root and taking collective responsibility for building and implementing holistic solutions, especially as it relates to our young people. Programs that reduce the risk of joining a gang by addressing the youth at the individual, family, and peer levels, while increasing protective factors against gang joining, are proven methods to prevent at-risk youth from engaging in violent behaviors or substance abuse later on.

1 [link]

2 Deadly shootings involving LAPD officers were up 142.9%, homicides increased 11.8% and motor vehicle thefts also rose 13.3% last year compared with 2020. [link]

3 Jan 2022 [link]