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Anaheim holds special meeting today to consider election changes

August 8, 2012 |  7:31 am

Anaheim mayor Tom Tait

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out in Anaheim on Wednesday for a special meeting of the City Council as it considers placing a measure on the ballot that would change how city leaders are elected.

The ballot measure would increase the number of council members from four to six and require that they be elected by voters in their home geographic district, rather than by voters in the city at-large.

The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. and has been moved to the auditorium at Anaheim High School to accommodate larger-than-usual crowds.

GRAPHIC: Anaheim's demographic divide

The city has been under growing pressure to switch to district voting after a pair of fatal police shootings last month highlighted deep racial divisions.

According to the latest U.S. census, the majority of Anaheim residents belong to a minority. About 52% of the city's 336,000 residents are Latino, but only a handful of Latinos have ever won council seats.

The controversy over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Anaheim man is part of a significant increase in both violent crime and officer-involved shootings in the city so far this year, according to records reviewed by The Times.

Anaheim police officers have fired at seven people, killing five, since Jan. 1. In comparison, there have been two other fatal police shootings in the rest of Orange County in that time. Anaheim recorded two fatal officer shootings in all of 2011 and none in 2010.

Police officials said the increased officer-involved shootings are intertwined with a rise in crime over the last year and a half. They said the biggest problem has been violent, gang-related crimes.

FBI statistics show that after several years of decline, violent crime in Anaheim increased 10% in 2011, from 1,161 incidents to 1,281. The number of homicides more than doubled from seven to 15. The increase in Anaheim went against a national trend that saw a 4% decline in violent crime, according to FBI statistics.


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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait with Anaheim Police Chief John Welter at a news conference following protests over police shootings in Anaheim last month. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times