Published April 10, 2018 – Visalia Times-Delta.
The California Police Chiefs Association is proposing a statewide initiative that would help address some of the problems that have resulted from the passage of recent ballot measures, particularly Propositions 47 and 57.
Locally, Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar is in support of the proposed Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018.
He asked Visalia City Council to adopt a resolution in support of the measure, which is expected to be placed on the November ballot.
“The passage of this proposition would be a step toward curbing the increases Visalia has seen in property crimes by providing law enforcement and the courts with the appropriate tools and resources to hold career criminals and violent criminals more accountable for their actions and improving public safety,” Salazar said.
Council members unanimously approved the resolution during a recent council meeting.
Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler said he thinks “Sacramento went too far” when they pushed to allow more early releases from prison to help ease crowding.
Gubler added that “homelessness is out of control” in the city and could be a result of the new laws.
“It seems like it just ended up increasing homelessness even as it tied the hands of law enforcement,” Gubler said.
The November ballot measure would better define violent crimes by expanding the list to include the rape of an unconscious person, trafficking a child for sex, assault of a peace officer, felony domestic violence and other crimes that are not currently classified as “violent felonies,” Salazar said.
Visalia has seen an increase in part-one crimes — homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft, Salazar said.
Salazar attributed the increase to Prop. 47 and he isn’t the only one who’s taken note of the spike.
Law enforcement throughout the state has seen direct impacts from the passage of these criminal justice reforms in their communities.
The Keeping California Safe Act revises the theft threshold by adding a felony for serial theft — a person caught three times for stealing more than $250.
Theft has increased by 12 percent to 25 percent, with losses of a $1 billion since Prop. 47 was passed. The financial threshold for theft was increased from $450 to $950, according to a Visalia staff report.
The measure would also require the parole board to consider an inmate’s entire criminal history when deciding parole, not just this most recent commitment offense. It would also require a mandatory hearing to determine whether parole should be denied for any parolee who violates the terms of parole for a third time.
Currently, parolees who repeatedly violate the terms of their parole face few consequences.
From 2007 to 2014, property crimes had decreased by 27 percent, violent crimes decreased by 11 percent, and Visalia’s total crimes had decreased by 23 percent.
After the passage of Prop. 47 — from 2014 to 2017 — property crimes have increased 16 percent, violent crimes have continued to decrease another 12 percent, and Visalia’s total crimes have increased by 7 percent.
Larceny has shown the most significant increase at 20 percent, burglary at 7 percent, and auto theft at 9 percent since 2014.