City council to make statement on Keep California Safe Act

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Santa Clarita City Council plans to consider formally supporting the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018, which will be voted on by California residents in November, at its April 10 meeting.

The initiative filed with state officials would “reform the parole system so violent felons are not released early from prison, strengthen oversight of post release community supervision and tighten penalties for violations of terms of post release community supervision.” It would also “reform theft laws to restore accountability for serial thieves and organized theft rings” and “expand DNA collection from persons convicted of drug, theft and domestic violence related crimes to help solve violent crimes and exonerate the innocent.”

Crimes that would be re-classified as violent felonies include domestic violence, hate crimes and child abduction.

The measure was approved for the signature-gathering phase by Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office in the first week of January. The effort needs about 367,000 signatures to qualify.

The initiative is aimed as a response to Proposition 47 and Proposition 57. Prop 47 reduced certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors after it was approved by voters in 2014. Prop 57, approved two years later, hastened the release of some non-violent offenders from prisons.

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar said he “absolutely” supported the initiative.

“As elected representatives throughout the state of California and the country, if we did not do all we can to protect our citizens, why are we even in office?” he said.

The initiative complemented legislative bill number AB 109, a 26-page report issued by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on how the county is complying with prison realignment.

The initiative “corrects some unintended consequences,” Michele Hanisee, president of the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, said in a previous Signal interview.

“We support this initiative because it gives us and the police the tools that we need to protect our communities and that is the most important thing to us,” Hanisee said.

Ron Hernandez, the president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said in a previous interview with the Signal that Prop 47 and Prop 57 were unclear to voters when they were approved.

“I think if we re-address some of the issues and solve those issues, it will not only make the streets safer for the communities that we protect, but it will also make it safe for those law enforcement officers and (sheriff’s deputies) that go out there and try to protect those communities,” he said.

Kellar said his previous experience as a police officer informed his decision to support the initiative.

“When you see people out here that have been on various levels, incredible victims of crimes, you sit here and you think, ‘Wait a minute. I’m supposed to coddle the criminals at the risk of our good citizens?’” he said. “If I have a regret in my law enforcement career, it’s that I didn’t throw more bad people in jail. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our citizens. It’s one of the reasons that we have been, at our size, repeatedly one of the safest cities in America for our population.”

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