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Los Angeles officials applied for more than $3 million in federal funding to help bring a Community Policing program to Harvard Park, a South L.A. neighborhood scarred by violence. The request has been denied.

The U.S. Department of Justice hasn’t offered the LAPD an explanation of why the department didn’t receive any of the $98 million in grants recently awarded to scores of law enforcement agencies across the nation. A spokesman for the federal agency declined to comment when asked by The Times last week.

But after the Trump administration’s repeated threats to withhold federal money from cities that don’t cooperate with its immigration crackdown, some LAPD officials said they believe the move was retaliatory — and a troubling sign of what could come.

Steve Soboroff, president of the civilian Police Commission that oversees the LAPD, said that he believes the Justice Department denied the funding request because of the LAPD’s well-publicized, hands-off approach to immigration enforcement. Soboroff said he worries future funding may also be at risk.

“Community policing is what policing’s all about. Militaristic policing, immigrant harassment is not,” he said. “By ignoring that, or prioritizing it beneath their issue of sanctuary cities and cooperation with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] — the priorities are wrong.”

“If this is the tip of the iceberg, we’re going to set back law enforcement and policing and public safety by decades,” he added.

The LAPD had planned to use the money to hire 25 officers for the community policing program in Harvard Park, one of the city’s deadliest neighborhoods. The roughly half-mile area saw eight homicides in 2016, nearly triple the number from the year before. So far this year, six people have been killed.

A spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti said that because the city had not received details about the Justice Department’s reasoning, he could not speculate as to why the $3.1-million request for Harvard Park was denied.

 

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