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News Release
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Media Relations
   
   
Chief Bratton Speaks at National Violent Crime Summit in Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles: Today, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief William Bratton will be a guest speaker at the National Violent Crime Summit in Washington, D.C.  

Bratton and other participants, which include representatives of the McCain and Obama campaigns, along with 180 police chiefs and other leaders will cover a wide variety of law enforcement issues at the annual summit. Sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), also in Washington, D.C., the summit’s theme is “Crime, the Economy, and a New President.” These topics include an update of violent crime statistics through mid-year 2008, the impact of the economic crisis on policing and the establishment of priorities for the next U.S. President and the new Congress.

To prepare for the Summit, PERF conducted a survey of more than 200 law enforcement agencies regarding their crime statistics for the first six months of 2008, as well as new initiatives they have undertaken to reduce crime. The survey also included questions about whether the weakening economy has affected crime patterns and/or police budgets.

More complete information about the survey findings and the event is available in the attached press release from PERF. Additional information about the PERF organization may also be found at www.policeforum.org.


OBAMA AND McCAIN CAMPAIGN OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS CRIME AND THE ECONOMY WITH POLICE LEADERS

(October 7, 2008, Washington, D.C.)—Representatives of the McCain and Obama campaigns will meet with a group of 180 police chiefs and other leaders tomorrow at a Summit organized by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a research and consulting firm and membership organization of local and state police officials.
   
The topic of the Summit is “Crime, the Economy, and a New President.” Police chiefs, mayors, and others in attendance will evaluate the most recent crime trend information as well as crime reduction strategies being implemented by local police—with a special focus on how the weakening economy is affecting police agencies and crime patterns.
   
The Presidential campaign officials will be asked to respond to this information and describe how a President McCain or President Obama would deal with the issue of local crime control in a time of economic crisis, shrinking local tax bases, and reduced police budgets.
   
Representing the Obama campaign will be Eric Holder, Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration (the second-highest ranking position in the Justice Department), and Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.
   
Representing the McCain campaign will be George J. Terwilliger III, Deputy Attorney General in the George H.W. Bush Administration, and Manus Cooney, former Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

SURVEY REVEALS CHIEFS’ CONCERN ABOUT THE ECONOMY

To prepare for the Summit, PERF conducted a survey of more than 200 law enforcement agencies regarding their crime statistics for the first six months of 2008, as well as new initiatives they have undertaken to reduce crime. The survey also included questions about whether the weakening economy has affected crime patterns and/or police budgets.
   
The survey was conducted in the last week of July—after the collapse of Bear Stearns and the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts, but prior to the news of the crisis hitting Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia and the recent passage of a $700-billion financial industry rescue bill.
   
At that time--as the economic troubles were just beginning to cause a widespread sense of alarm--45 percent of the police agencies surveyed said that recent changes in the national economy had already impacted their ability to reduce crime. About the same percentage (43 percent) said that the faltering economy had affected their ability to deliver services.
   
In addition, 39 percent of the responding agencies said they had experienced a decrease in their operating budgets during the last budget cycle. Because local police agencies are funded largely through property taxes and other local taxes, reductions in property assessments and a slowdown in the economy can quickly affect police budgets.
   
For example, when asked whether increased home foreclosure rates had affected their department, 39 percent responded in the affirmative. For example, police in some jurisdictions said that foreclosures had caused a loss in tax revenue, and also that they were finding that abandoned homes are being used for parties by youths. In Fort Wayne, Ind., and other locations, police said that vacant homes are being burglarized for copper pipes. Police in Santa Ana, Calif. said that their city has the largest numbers of foreclosures in the county, and that vacant homes were attracting transients, gang members, and prostitutes, and were causing a general sense of neighborhood disorder. Phoenix police said that a decrease in sales tax revenue was directly tied to a decrease in police funding, and Prince William County, Va. police said that vacant homes are being used as “flop houses.”
   
Those jurisdictions, as well as others that reported crime problems stemming from foreclosures, such as Indio, Calif.; Lawrence, Mass.; Sacramento, Calif.; and West Palm Beach, Fla.; will have representatives attending the PERF Summit.
   
Two-thirds of the responding agencies also said they had been affected by increases in the cost of gasoline and other forms of energy. And 66 percent of the agencies said they had taken steps to lessen the impact, through such measures as tightening rules on officers’ use of take-home cars or increasing use of bicycle or foot patrols.
   
Other findings from PERF’s survey include the following:
  • Immigration cited as top priority for new federal legislation:  PERF’s survey asked police executives, “If you were advising the next President on how to help local police with federal policies aside from financial assistance, what would be the one or two most important issues you would like to see addressed?”  The top issue, cited by approximately one-third of the respondents, was addressing illegal immigration and/or securing the nation’s borders.  Other responses included:  providing help in dealing with gangs; improved communications and information-sharing among law enforcement agencies; greater partnerships among police agencies at all levels and increased assistance from federal agencies; gun control and enforcement, especially restoring a ban on assault weapons; increased federal prosecutions; increased prison capacity; and generally improving the economy.
  •   Crime levels appear to remain on an overall downward trend. Among PERF’s sample of 56 agencies that has served as an accurate bellwether over the last few years, total crime levels declined in every category during the first six months of 2008, compared to the first six months of 2007. Murders declined 10.5 percent; rapes, 5.5 percent; robberies, 3.3 percent; and aggravated assaults, 4.2 percent.
  •   However, crime reductions are by no means universal in 2008. Crime continues to be a “tale of two cities.” While overall crime totals were down, many agencies reported increases in the first six months of 2008. For example, 31 percent of agencies reported increases in murder; 42 percent reported increases in rape; 43 percent reported increases in robbery; 36 percent reported increases in aggravated assault; 39 percent reported increases in aggravated assault with a firearm; 47 percent reported increases in burglary; 44 percent reported increases in thefts; 24 percent reported increases in motor vehicle theft; and 37 percent reported increases in arson. 
  •   Furthermore, U.S. crime rates remain unacceptably high compared to other industrialized countries. For example, on average, every day across the 27 European Union Countries, with a total population of 497 million, 8 people are murdered. By contrast, 47 people are murdered on an average day in the United States, which has a much smaller population of 305 million.
  •   When asked whether they had experienced a particularly violent week or weekend during 2008, 35 percent of agencies responded in the affirmative. Police agencies said they have undertaken a variety of countermeasures. For example, Chicago police redeployed sworn officers who had been working in administrative positions to neighborhoods experiencing increased violence. Boston flooded violent crime hot spots with increased patrols, warrant sweeps, and increased enforcement.
  •   When responding police agencies were asked to cite the top factors that they believe are contributing to violent crime in their jurisdictions, the top factor, cited by 82 percent of agencies, was gangs, followed by juvenile crime (80 percent); “impulsive violence/disrespect issues” (74 percent); poverty/unemployment (74 percent); and the release of large numbers of offenders from correctional facilities back into the community (69 percent).
PERF is a membership organization of police executives from the largest city, county and state law enforcement agencies.  For additional information, go to www.policeforum.org.

     
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