The city is governed by a mayor-council system. The current mayor is Antonio Villaraigosa. There are 15 city council districts. Other elected city officials include the City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and the City Controller Wendy Greuel. The city attorney prosecutes misdemeanors within the city limits. The district attorney, elected by county voters, prosecutes misdemeanors in unincorporated areas and in 78 of the 88 cities in the county, as well as felonies throughout the county.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polices the city of Los Angeles, but the city also maintains four specialized police agencies; The Office of Public Safety, within the General Services Department (which is responsible for security and law enforcement services at city facilities, including City Hall, city parks and libraries, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Convention Center), the Port Police, within the Harbor Department (which is responsible for land, air and sea law enforcement services at the Port of Los Angeles), the Los Angeles City Schools Police department which handles law enforcement for all city schools, and the Airport Police, within the Los Angeles World Airports Department (which is responsible for law enforcement services at all four city-owned airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), LA/Palmdale Regional Airport (PMD), and Van Nuys Airport (VNY).
Voters created Neighborhood Councils in the Charter Reform of 1999. First proposed by City Council member Joel Wachs in 1996, they were designed to promote public participation in government and make it more responsive to local needs.
The councils cover districts that are not necessarily identical to the traditional neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
Almost ninety neighborhood councils (NCs) are certified and all "stakeholders"—meaning anyone who lives, works or owns property in a neighborhood—may vote for members of the councils' governing bodies. Some council bylaws allow other people with a stake in the community to cast ballots as well.
The councils are official government bodies and so their governing bodies and committees must abide by California's Brown Act, which governs the meetings of deliberative assemblies.
The first notable concern of the neighborhood councils collectively was the opposition by some of them in March 2004 to an 18% increase in water rates by the city's Department of Water and Power. This led the City Council to approve only a limited increase pending independent review. More recently, some of the councils petitioned the City Council in summer 2006 to allow them to introduce ideas for legislative action, but the City Council put off a decision.
The neighborhood councils have been allocated $45,000 each per year for administration, outreach and approved neighborhood projects.
Crime and safety
Los Angeles has been experiencing significant decline in crime since the mid-1990s, and reached a 50-year low in 2009 with 314 homicides. Antonio Villaraigosais a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.
In 2009, Los Angeles reported 314 homicides, which corresponds to a rate of 7.85 (per 100,000 population)—a major decrease from 1993, when the all time homicide rate of over 21.1 (per 100,000 population) was reported for the year. This included 15 officer-involved shootings. One shooting led to the death of a SWAT team member, Randal Simmons, the first in LAPD's history.
The Los Angeles crime family dominated organized crime in the city during the Prohibition era and reached its peak during the 1940s and 1950s as part of the American Mafia but has gradually declined since then with the rise of various black and Hispanic gangs.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the city is home to 26,000 gang members, organized into 250 gangs. Among them are the Crips, Bloods, Hoovers,Sureños, Maravilla, 18th Street, Mara Salvatrucha, and Asian street gangs. This has led to the city being referred to as the "Gang Capital of America".