LA Mayoral Candidate and Real Estate Developer Rick Caruso received the endorsement of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) on Thursday, gaining his first major endorsement since entering the race two weeks ago.
While the selection of Caruso seemed likely to many considering that he had served as a Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioner from 2001 to 2006, others were surprised that the union didn’t support candidates like current frontrunner Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) or City Councilman and former police officer Joe Buscaino. Instead, the 9,500 officer strong LAPPL chose Caruso due to his support of the police, his approach to public safety, and believing that he can “fix” the city.
“We believe that the people of Los Angeles and the members of the LAPD agree: Our approach to public safety needs to change,” said LAPPL President Lt. Craig Lally on Thursday in a statement. “Rick is not a typical politician, and we believe that he can fix L.A. Caruso was unanimously selected by the the union’s political action committee and board of directors.”
Caruso accepted endorsement later on Thursday, saying that “I’m deeply grateful to have the support of the front-line police officers in the city. We cannot reduce crime in L.A. without their contributions. I have deep respect for the city’s labor unions and look forward to working with them as mayor.”
The issue of the LAPD has become more and more of a hot button issue in recent years. While the LAPD was slashed to under 10,000 standing officers only two years ago because of social justice advocates pushing for fewer police in the wake of the George Floyd protests and riots, the call for more officers due to a climbing crime rate and complaints from many locals about the lack of police has struck a nerve with most candidates. Only one major candidate, Councilman Kevin de Leon, has said that he would not re-expand the LAPD. Others, such as Bass, have proposed a modest increase of 200 officers. Some have called for a mix of more police and more mental health officers. However, Black Lives Matters and other groups remain opposed to this and even began a protest during an LA Mayoral debate earlier this week over the issue.
Caruso, who did not attend the debate, has been one of the more fastidious candidates over the police increasing issue, hoping to bring in 1,300 officers for a total of 11,000.
Caruso’s first major endorsement
Buscaino, who has also quoted that number, lamented that the union picked Caruso over him on Thursday, noting that they chose a former Board Commissioner over a former fellow officer.
“The political arm of the police union made a bet against one of their own,” explained Buscaino. “Public safety is the most important responsibility of a local government. Everything hinges on it. This is why I will always be supportive of the rank-and-file officers who serve and protect our city, and I know they support my candidacy for mayor.”
Political commentators saw Caruso’s first major endorsements as a major step for him becoming the second candidate on the race Friday, as it is widely expected through financial and public support numbers that Bass will be in the election no matter what.
“Bass has a lot of impressive endorsements so far, including 9 members of Congress, 2 state Senators, 5 Assemblymembers, about half of the City Council, and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,” said Los Angeles issue advisor Ramon Martin to the Globe on Friday. “The police union would have been a feather in anyones cap to indicate who the other major player would be, or in the case of Bass, gaining an unlikely endorsement so close to the election. Instead Caruso got it. We knew it was going to be him, Buscaino or an outside chance for Bass.
“Caruso has been in second place in polls neck to neck with Buscaino. While having the support of the police is not going to attract a lot of Angelinos, especially after George Floyd, the crime is getting bad enough that someone with a strong police backing could be seen as enticing. So Caruso has probably moved to second place in the race with this. Buscaino is by no means out, but he’ll have to work to gain back this ground, especially since Caruso is now likely chipping into Bass’ lead now.”
More endorsements for the candidates are likely to be announced soon with the June Primary now just over 3 months away.