D.A., cops go for Howard Berman; some prefer Brad Sherman
Rep. Howard Berman certainly felt the love of some key local law enforcement leaders Thursday when several of them sang his praises — and gave their endorsements to his efforts to win reelection against another seasoned Democratic congressman.
Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, the county’s most prominent Republican elected official, joined leaders of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Assn., the Los Angeles Police Protective League and others at a downtown news conference. Introduced by longtime Berman ally Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, they took turns ticking off Berman’s accomplishments and his credentials as a longtime “friend of law enforcement."
“This is a guy who not only gets it but then he gets it done,” enthused Culver City Police Chief Don Pedersen, who also leads the 45- member county chiefs organization, which has endorsed Berman over Rep. Brad Sherman, Berman’s main competition for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley congressional district seat.
But a Sherman campaign spokesman showed up to play the skunk at the garden party, handing out a rebuttal to Berman’s “outlandish” claims that his efforts in the early 1990s had added “thousands of new police officers” to Valley streets through the federally funded COPS program.
Sherman did more than Berman to keep the funding going over the last 10 years, Sherman spokesman John Schwada said in a statement, contending there are only 12 additional officers in the Valley as a result of the COPS program. And Sherman, too, has some law enforcement backers, including the Assn. of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs and the Southern California Law Enforcement Alliance.
So how, a television reporter asked at the news conference, do these leaders differentiate between Sherman and Berman?
[For the record, 2:14 p.m., April 12: An earlier version of this post misidentified the individual who asked how the law enforcement leaders differentiated between Sherman and Berman as Sherman spokesman John Schwada.]
“Howard Berman’s always been there," Cooley responded. "He’s the person who always comes through.”
Cooley talked about how Berman led efforts to rebuild the county courthouse in San Fernando after it was heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Then Cooley served up this gift to the Berman cause: “We’re not against anybody. We’re for Howard Berman.”
Berman has had longer to build a record, having been in Congress since 1983; Sherman has been there since 1997.
The Berman campaign disputed Sherman’s “only 12” assertion, claiming the number was more like 750, while Berman himself did not get into the COPS program numbers during the news conference. He chose instead to talk about the $18 million he said he procured to train and equip local officers to fight the proliferation of meth labs and other efforts to improve public safety.
-- Jean Merl
Photo: Reps. Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman at their first debate in January. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times