Nathan Hochman | Smash-&-Grabs Explode, Gascón MIA

Nathan Hochman, Guest Commentary
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It is often said that rain will find the weakest part of a roof to leak through to destroy the house below. So too will criminals exploit the weakest link in the criminal justice system to decide where, when and how to commit crimes to destroy society’s safety. 

Over the past three years, the weakest link in L.A. County’s criminal justice system is clearly District Attorney George Gascón. His pro-criminal policies have emboldened lawbreakers throughout the county to commit more brazen criminal acts, from stealing just under $950 from mom-and-pop convenience stores to the recent explosion of smash-and-grab robberies from Glendale to East Los Angeles, Beverly Hills to Canoga Park. 

It is fitting then that when L.A. Mayor Karen Bass held a press conference on Aug. 17 announcing the establishment of a multi-agency Organized Retail Crimes Task Force to address the smash-and-grab robberies, the one key person she did not even invite to attend was Gascón. 

The mayor was there as were the heads of the L.A. Police Department, L.A.  County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement, but the person in charge of prosecuting these cases was missing in action. 

The one group that hopes Gascón gets personally involved are the criminals themselves. Criminals hoped Gascón would participate since he has bragged how his policies have saved them over 12,000 years of jail time by failing to charge them with the full extent of their criminal activity. 

Criminals applaud Gascón’s no cash bail policies because it allows them to get arrested in the morning and be out by the afternoon. Criminals cheer Gascón’s juvenile criminal charging policies since gangs can have 16- and 17-year-olds use guns during violent crimes, including murder, knowing they won’t be charged as adults and will be out by their 25th birthdays. 

Whether it’s one violent criminal on video toasting Gascón from his prison cell in appreciation of Gascón’s lenient policies or a convicted murderer so happy with Gascón he says he wants to tattoo Gascón’s name on his face, criminals understand that L.A. County is “Open for [Illegal] Business.” 

They chuckle at Gascón’s expressed “personal outrage” over the rash of robberies whose videos have gone viral because they know that his words have little relation to his pro-criminal policies. Indeed, criminals must have celebrated when the Gascón recall did not succeed yet, despite 97.8% of the over 800 prosecutors working for Gascón voting to support his recall along with 36 cities voting no confidence in him as district attorney. 

Just as we need to preserve our houses by making sure we fix any leaks in the roof, so too must we regain our ability to live freely and safely in our communities without the constant threat of criminal activity — by voting out Gascón, criminals’ best friend and the system’s weakest link. 

Nathan Hochman is a former federal prosecutor, U.S. assistant attorney general and L.A. City Ethics Commission president, who is running for Los Angeles County District Attorney. 

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