Funny, all of the local TV networks rejected a extremely similar ad from the NRA a few years ago on the grounds that it was too emotional and controversial. But now the colors show throught, it was purely political pure & simple, there is really a bias against the NRA, and the right.
L.A. COUNTY ELECTIONS
TV Ad for Tax Hike Plays the Fear Card
By Jeffrey L. Rabin
Times Staff Writer
October 10, 2004
A chilling television commercial that plays on the fear of crime with a simulated late-night break-in at a suburban home has become the centerpiece of the campaign to convince Los Angeles County voters that a sales tax increase is needed to pay for more police.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton acknowledge that they are taking a risk by running an ad that implicitly criticizes their departments' ability to respond to emergency calls. But they contend that it's the most effective way to persuade two-thirds of voters to approve a tax hike.
"The goal is to have a message that crime is a problem," Baca said. "We need help in fixing it, and there's not enough cops."
The dramatic, 30-second ad depicts a woman cowering in her bedroom as she desperately dials 911 and tells an emergency operator that someone has broken into her home. Holding her terrified little daughter, she pleads: "We're alone here. Please, send someone."
As a gloved intruder makes his way up the stairs to her bedroom, she becomes increasingly frantic. "You don't understand," she tells the operator. "He's here right now."
The commercial ends with the woman screaming, "No! No! No!" The sound of a heart beating is heard and then a dial tone.
"This shows a crime in progress and that the woman needs immediate help in her home. When are the cops going to get there?" Baca said. "This is a commercial that stands alone. It's truthful and makes a clear point. There's no sugarcoating."
Baca and Bratton acknowledge that the emotionally powerful commercial is calculated to grab the attention of voters in an election season crowded with television ads. The county's two top law enforcement officials are asking voters to pass Measure A, which would raise the sales tax from 8.25% to 8.75% in Los Angeles County, to pay for 5,000 more police officers, more prosecutors and upgraded communications systems.
By the end of last month, they had raised just under $2 million to finance the campaign. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents city police officers, donated $500,000 in a single check. There is no organized campaign against the tax.
Steven Erie, a political scientist at UC San Diego, said the appeal to fear of crime reflects the difficulty of winning the two-thirds majority vote needed to increase the sales tax. "The fear factor may be the only card that gets you over the bar," he said.
But after hearing a description of the commercial, Erie wondered: "Will the likely voter reaction be to vote Yes on A or buy a handgun?"
The ad, which shows the outside of a home in the San Fernando Valley and features a white woman, is targeted partly at middle- and upper-middle-class whites who tend to be wary of tax increases.
Bratton acknowledged that the commercial was aimed at "soccer moms," but said he hoped it would appeal to voters throughout the county.
The ad, he said, is "reflective of the fact that no matter where you live, no matter what your status in life, that crime can reach you. We all need to be concerned for each other ? not just the people who live in South Los Angeles who have way too much crime in their lives every day."
Thomas Hollihan, a professor and associate dean at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, said the Measure A commercial is just the latest of many political ads that have used fear to get through to voters.
"Political ads have to tell a story," he said. "It's got to be believable." Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican media consultant, said, "You can't be subtle" if you want to get the voters' attention and "cut through the clutter" of other ads for state ballot measures on such subjects as Indian casinos and stem cell research.
The measure is one of 17 that Los Angeles County voters will be asked to consider. It appears last on the ballot.
The challenge facing supporters of Measure A is to convince voters that crime is a real issue in their lives. The subject of the campaign's first commercial was no accident. "There is no doubt that home invasion frightens people the most," Hoffenblum said.
The shortage of LAPD officers has been an issue in city campaigns for many years.
Former Mayor Richard Riordan made getting more cops on the street the cornerstone of his run for mayor in 1993. His campaign theme, "Tough Enough to Turn L.A. Around," hit home with voters fearful of crime in the aftermath of the April 1992 riots. That outburst of violence was sparked by the verdict in the first trial of LAPD officers involved in beating African American motorist Rodney G. King.
"Crime was higher when Riordan took office," Erie said. "There was real fear."
Crime is down significantly from its high point during the region's economic downturn of the 1990s. In 1993, there were 652,939 major crimes reported in the county, according to the FBI crime index. In contrast, in 2002, there were 394,590. Included in that count were murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, vehicle theft, larceny and arson.
"Given a lower crime rate and the need for a two-thirds approval," Erie said, "you really have to play the fear card."
In campaign appearances and interviews, Baca and Bratton are doing just that, repeatedly pointing out that Los Angeles has far fewer police officers than other major U.S. cities.
In the Measure A commercial, an announcer intones, "Los Angeles County has only one police officer for every 435 residents. Other cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia have almost twice as many officers per resident."
The actual ratio of officers to residents, according to data supplied by the Sheriff's Department, is even worse. Between the Sheriff's Department and the 45 city police departments, including the LAPD, there are 22,361 officers in Los Angeles County, which has 10.1 million residents. That's a ratio of one officer for every 452 residents.
By contrast, there are 39,110 police officers in New York City, which has more than 8 million people. That translates to one officer for every 204 residents. Chicago has one officer for every 208 residents, while Philadelphia has one for every 224 people.
Bratton readily acknowledges that response time to emergency calls is a problem. "In the county of Los Angeles, we have a huge county with very few police. The response time is always an issue," he said.
In areas patrolled by the LAPD, the average citywide response time this fiscal year is 6.8 minutes. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, it took police 10.1 minutes to respond to emergency calls. The improvement came after LAPD brass ordered that officers use flashing lights and sirens more often when responding to calls.
In areas patrolled by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, the average response time this calendar year for emergency calls is 5.2 minutes, the same as last year.
Political scientist Erie noted that the problem with response times stems not just from the number of police officers on duty. It's also related to the distances police must travel in the sprawling region.
The city of Los Angeles covers 469 square miles; the county encompasses more than 4,080 square miles.
But Bratton said the estimated $560 million a year that would be generated by boosting the sales tax "would allow us to improve so many of the issues that were portrayed in that 30-second commercial."
Times staff writers Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton contributed to this report.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
The campaign for Measure A, which would raise the sales tax in Los Angeles County to pay for more police officers, is running this 30-second television spot titled "Home Invasion."
Script and images:
The ad opens with a view of a suburban tract home at night. The sound of breaking glass is heard, then a dog starts barking. A light goes on in an upstairs bedroom. A white woman with blond hair, crouched on the floor next to her bed, frantically dials 911. The sound of a heartbeat is heard and continues throughout the ad.
Operator: "911 operator."
Woman: (Sobbing) "Someone's breaking into my home!"
A gloved hand opens a door. A young girl runs down a hall into the woman's arms.
Operator: "Ma'am, I understand. Please, remain calm. We're sending police."
A view is seen from the perspective of someone approaching the stairs. Then a shadowy figure is shown walking up the steps.
Announcer: "Los Angeles County has only one police officer for every 435 residents."
Woman: (Pleading) "We're alone here. Please, send someone!"
Operator: "Ma'am. Ma'am. Police are on the way. They're coming."
Woman: (Hysterical) "No! You don't understand! He's here right now!"
An open bedroom door is seen from down the hall.
Announcer: "Other major cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia have almost twice as many officers per resident."
A view is seen from the perspective of someone entering the bedroom and approaching where the woman is cowering in fear, clutching the phone.
Woman: (Shouting) "No! No! No!"
She screams. A dial tone is heard. The heartbeat continues.
Announcer: "Measure A will provide for more cops and safer streets. Vote yes on Measure A."
Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times
I heard that the best way to tell them to leave was the noise a pump shotgun makes when you pump it.
It is without a doubt THE BEST pro-gun advertisement EVER!
Screw the extra police, they cannot get there in time no matter what! Even if there were a million new officers on patrol, the woman in the ads needs a gun and RIGHT NOW!
CARPA should have run that ad, not Lee Baca. CARPA should hijack that ad and run a campaign which would get a bounce from that ad.
BTW, I'm voting against teh tax increase.
We need CCW, an armed and trained populace, not more police.
Yep, been there done that. I was at a girlfriend's house a few years back, who was rapidly anti-gun, so obviously there were no guns in the house. We were in here living room when we heard something at the door. After a few seconds it became obvious that someone was trying to pick the lock, looked through the peephole and saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt with what I assumed was black face-paint because I couldn't see his features. He started kicking the door and I told my friend to get on the phone to the police and screamed out that I had a gun, which I didn't but felt it was my best shot, and was calling the police. He ran, and it took the cops about 30-40 minutes to show up. My friend had told them on the phone that he went away, so they put us on a lower priority. My friend freaked out because she was afraid that the guy would come back. I explained to her that if she had a gun, my threat would not have been empty, and that it wouldn't have mattered when the cops came because if he got through the door, all they would have to do is call the coroner.
Needless to say, that night she became very pro-gun and I took her to buy her first handgun the next day.
It is impossible for the police to respond to every emergency in time to actually stop it, even if there were twice or three times as many cops on the road; their job is to catch the criminals after they have committed a crime. It is up to each individual to assure their own safety. Unfortunately, most people don't get that.
That is a very valid fear. My in-laws house was burgularized, fortunately no one was home at the time, by someone who broke into the garage, and then their house. My since-deceased father-in-law found a knife in his bedroom. If he would've been home, the intruders were in his house he would've been stabbed/killed him. How much effort would someone need to overcome an 80 year old man. Well, I went over my in-laws and installed a heavy duty deadbolt and a better lock on their garage door, low and behold, that night the theives came back to burgle the garaga again, but my new door lock held them back.
BTW: My father-in-law lost his prized 1911 he brought back from WWII.
L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca & LAPD Chief Bill Bratton are pretty much self-serving politicos.
The problem is that the NRA/CRPA did really try to run an extremely similar ad, but it was rejected by the TV stations as being too controversial, emotional, & inflamatory(whatever that means). But the point is there are two seperate standards, one for oranganization the TV station managment agree with and one for those that they didn't.
I'd already heard that story of being rejected. Now is the time to run the ad, which is apparently already in the can, ready to go. There is no way they could turn you down and CARPA would maximize the bounce they get.
Mike_Mills: I'm not familiar what goes into running the ads on the TV. I just saw a video tape of the ad in the NRA's booth at the Great Western Gunshow a few years back. But I bet it is probably too late in the season. I bet they have lined up the ducks way in advance. Too bad.