Dear Friend,

At the height of the crack cocaine and gang violence epidemic in Los Angeles, I was treating victims of violent crime in the trauma unit at LAC/USC County Emergency Room. 

I realized that applying pressure to a patient’s wound might save one life, but it wouldn’t stop this city from bleeding. 

That has put me on a lifelong mission to save lives in our city. In 1990, I founded Community Coalition, an intergenerational African American and Latino South LA-based organization that brings together neighbors, students, faith leaders, law enforcement, educators and non-profit organizations to prevent crime and violence by addressing poverty, substance abuse, and the gutting of supportive services.   

Above all, I firmly believe that the Mayor’s most important responsibility is to keep Angelenos safe. 

But people don’t feel safe today. Whether you’ve had your car broken into, your backpack stolen, your property damaged – or you’ve seen news coverage of home robberies, or violent assaults – more and more Angelenos I speak with tell me crime has touched them personally, and they feel scared. That’s not right. All Angelenos deserve to feel safe in their neighborhoods. 

I know that can only happen by throwing out the old, failed approach of the status quo – which is why my community safety plan starts with a focus on effective and responsive policing, preventing homicides, and getting guns off our streets. 

We have to allow our officers to actually focus on fighting crime by using response teams that include mental health, homeless outreach and other specialists who can respond to people in distress.

When someone commits a crime, they must be held fully accountable. And after they serve their time, they need access to resources to fully rehabilitate and successfully re-enter society: employment opportunities, education, and housing.

We’ve tried to arrest our way out of a crime crisis before. It didn’t work. We must build a new crime prevention strategy – a plan that’s rooted in stopping crime at its source, not partisan talking points. 

That’s why my community safety plan is tailored to the unique needs communities in Los Angeles. 

Public safety means different things to different neighborhoods: some communities need increased visibility from police patrols, while other neighborhoods need proven model programs that build trust and cooperation between community members and law enforcement. It’s time to tailor crime response to the needs of individual communities.

Our police officers know as well as anyone: law enforcement is only one piece of the puzzle. Breaking cycles of crime must be the goal. This work of ending the vicious cycle of violence requires prevention, intervention, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and police reform. 

Los Angeles needs a Mayor who will take decisive action to keep our communities safe, using every tool at our disposal. As your Mayor, that is exactly what I will do. 

Read my plan to keep Angelenos safe aquí

Next month I will release additional strategies focusing on crime prevention and intervention. This much I know — there is no time to waste when it comes to making this city safe. These are the changes we must make immediately. 

Karen Bass