Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief William J. Bratton pinch-hit for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Westchester/LAXñMarina del Rey Chamber of Commerce’s annual Protectors Breakfast last week.

But the city’s top law enforcement officer carried much of the mayor’s message to the crowd of more than 300.

Bratton, who stepped in as the event’s keynote speaker at the last minute while Villaraigosa completed a trip to New York, said he supports the mayor’s attempt to take control of what he called a “failing” school system and added that more attention should be placed on L.A.’s homeless problem.

“We have the worst homeless problem of any city in this country, and shame on us for ignoring this problem for so long,” said Bratton.

He added that 85 percent of the homeless people in Los Angeles have mental health issues that should be dealt with.

But, as one might expect, Bratton’s comments focused primarily on public safety.

With scores of “protectors” in the room representing a variety of agencies from LAPD and theLos Angeles City Fire Department to L.A. County Lifeguards and the U.S. Coast Guard, Bratton called public safety the city’s number one goal.

“You must have public safety,” he said. “If you don’t have it, you have anarchy and chaos.

“We need to protect the protectors. You need to be sure there are enough of us and that we are equipped properly, and you need events like this where you say, in a clear and organized way, ‘We care and we will work to make this the safest large city and the safest county in the United States.'”

The annual chamber event honors “protectors” from every local public safety agency and brings the business community together to support those who protect our community.

Bratton did not miss the opportunity to issue a call to action for those business leaders — demand that the City Council support Villaraigosa’s request for $2.5 million in funding for LAPD’s anti-terrorism unit.

“The council has been sitting on this mayoral request for two-and-a-half months,” Bratton said. “They have been dickering over $2.5 million to protect you and keep you safe.

“I need your help. We need your help.

“Call your council member and ask them where the mayor’s terrorism bill is.”

Bratton, who served as New York City’s police chief from 1994 to 1996, said the city needs to make a much more significant investment in fighting terrorism, especially since Los Angeles International Airport is widely recognized as the highest profile terrorist target west of New York and Washington, D.C.

“Terrorism should be Job 1 in this city,” he said. “Terrorism is with us and will be with us for the rest of our lives and the rest of our children’s lives.

“Little did we know that 9/11 would be the Pearl Harbor of a war that would go on for decades. We are in a new paradigm. We are a nation at war.”

Bratton, who has been criticized for his travels, which sometimes have him out of the city for weeks at a time, said he plans to continue traveling.

“I spend 50 percent of my time dealing with issues related to terrorism,” said Bratton, who added that traveling abroad to places like Israel helps him exchange ideas, strategies and best practices with law enforcement agencies around the world.

“I’m talking to them about terrorism, but the law enforcement people in Israel are more concerned about stopping traditional crime,” said Bratton, who added that terrorism is fifth on the Israelis’ list, behind things like traditional crime, organized crime and even traffic fatalities.

Bratton said the $2.5 million Villaraigosa has requested for his department would help hire 75 new officers and train them for an LAPD anti-terrorism unit.

He said that kind of training should be going on in every public safety department, and that the police department continues to work with those agencies to be ready for the terrorist attack that he says is inevitable.

“I’m very proud of the badge on my chest, but I am also very proud of all the agencies I get to work with,” Bratton said. “We will work together and we will continue to work to keep you safe, to keep your children safe, to keep your businesses safe and to keep our community safe.”

LMU STAR DIES — Loyola Marymount University and its Athletic Department suffered the loss of an original star with the passing of Hugh Boyle, a 1943 graduate and two-sport athlete in both basketball and baseball.

Boyle died Sunday, March 19th.

Funeral services were held Thursday, March 23rd, in Long Beach for Boyle, who was inducted into the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1989.

After graduation, Boyle remained active with LMU Lions athletics, serving as chairman of the school’s Athletics Board for 20 years.

He served as president of the Southern California Dairy Association, Dairy Institute of the State of California, Dairy Council of the State of California, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and Fathers’ Club of St. Mary’s Academy.

Boyle was part of the 1939 to 1940 and 1942 to 1943 basketball teams, helping the Lions to wins over Arizona State, Arizona, California, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara.

He was also a catcher for the Lions baseball teams from 1940 to 1943, and was named to the legendary Rod Dedeaux All-Opponent team.

Boyle and his family have a rich history within LMU athletics.

Two of Boyle’s grandchildren, Chris and Scott Walter, followed their grandfather’s footsteps and had success as LMU student athletes.

Chris was a four-team All-WCC (West Coast Conference) selection for the LMU men’s soccer program from 1993 to 1996, earning honorable mention all four years on his way to setting the career record for saves with 410.

Scott was part of three straight WCC championship teams for the LMU baseball program.

A three-time first-team All-WCC selection, Scott’s name is throughout the LMU record books, earning WCC Freshman of the Year and WCC Player of the Year honors in 1998.

He finished his career as a third-team All-American in 2000.

Contributions in Hugh’s memory may be made to the LMU Athletic Department, 1 LMU Drive, Westchester 90045.

TRUDY RATZLAFF — While some parts of Los Angeles have no neighborhood feel at all, the residents of Westchester’s Henefer Avenue are keeping alive the neighborhood atmosphere that was en vogue when Trudy Ratzlaff, one of Westchester’s first homeowners, bought her house after World War II.

Ratzlaff, who picked out the first Westchester lot sold by the Nowell Brothers, recently turned 90 and her neighbors threw a party to help her celebrate.

Ratzlaff used to model for the Nowell Brothers’ real estate ads, and she and her husband filmed the construction of their house.

That film is now in the hands of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Historical Society.

“With all the bad things we read about Los Angeles, it’s nice to know that Westchester, our little corner of Los Angeles, still has that small-town feel,” said John Ruhlen, one of the Henefer residents who helped Ratzlaff celebrate.

“Everyone should live on a street like this, where we really care for and look out for our neighbors,” Ruhlen said.

CORRECTION — Last week’s Off the Bluffs column indicated that Playa del Rey resident Monica Kahn would be receiving the American Cancer Society Lane Adams Quality of Life Award, a prestigious national prize for cancer caring, at a ceremony in June. In fact, Kahn was honored with that award last year.

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