Neil Fitzgerald | Soft-on-Crime Policies Come Home to Roost

Neil Fitzgerald
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Another month and we have yet more cases of how Democratic Soft On Crime policies are impacting our communities. We have all witnessed in horror the rise in smash-and-grab raids, particularly on department stores. Our own mall has been under attack several times. This increase in lawlessness that started in the COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of stopping and it is high time our leaders showed real leadership.

So-called “smash-and-grabs” have been on the rise in California in recent years, with a steady uptick, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California analyzes retail theft and robberies across 15 of the state’s largest counties. The report, released Tuesday, shows shoplifting has increased by one-third from pandemic years. Yes, one-third higher. Burglaries, which they class based on stolen items of $950 ore more, are up by 15% vs. 2020 and robberies involving threatened force or used force are up by 13%.

What is particularly concerning is that Los Angeles County ranked the highest for robbery increases. Another liberal area, San Francisco, had the highest rates of shoplifting.

Another data source, California’s 2022 annual crime report published recently, shows that violent crime in the Golden State was 6.1% higher than the 2021 figure, whilst property crime had increased by 6.2%. 

This continues a broader trend that saw the number of reported violent crimes in California surge from 173,864 in 2020 to 193,019 in 2022, whilst property crimes rose from 851,171 to 902,977 during the same period.

We now face law enforcement agencies in our county forming a new task force. 

My concern is that task forces on their own are not enough. We also see Metro wishing to create its own police force because people do not feel safe on public transport. I can admit that I will not use public transport at night anymore.

There must be an alternative, and Republicans must lead.

California state Assembly Republican leader James Gallagher has said, “What’s shocking is that despite these new numbers, Democrats are doubling down on the same failed policies that encourage these crimes … It’s no wonder businesses around the state are giving up and shutting their doors for good.”

California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Patterson said the latest figures on burglaries are the inevitable result of failed Democratic policies like Propositions 47 or 57, and Assembly Bill 109.

“We’re seeing the repercussions of [those policies]. And not only that, but they continue to double down on these soft-on-crime policies,” Patterson told Fox News Digital. “It’s just a very, very sad reality of one-party rule in California.”

She added: “The experiment has not worked. No one is looking at California and saying, ‘This is what we should be doing.’ And in fact, we’re seeing that with the people that are just getting up and leaving.”

On the Democrat side, they know this is an issue. One leading political scientist told Newsweek the situation in California means Democrats are struggling to “shake” the perception they are “soft on crime,” which is likely to be a Republican focus during the 2024 presidential election.

As Republicans we cannot, though, just criticize the Democrats, but we need to provide an alternative approach. We must stop Senate Bill 553. This idiotic bill had proposed a ban on employers requiring non-security employees to confront “active shooters or suspected shoplifters,” sparking local protests from some business owners.

However, opposing and stopping soft-on-crime bills isn’t enough. 

We must do more. Republicans support a move to repeal Prop. 47, which increased the amount someone can steal from $450 to $950 and still be considered a misdemeanor. 

We also support a reform that would allow increased penalties on serial theft offenders. This is common sense and would help beat the gangs conducting smash-and-
grab raids. Another proposal would enhance the punishment for those who possess or use a firearm while committing a violent felony.

Finally, we must in L.A. County vote out Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who has attempted to institute policies that are less punishing of criminals who are driven by addiction, has eliminated bail for minor offenses and has declined to prosecute many misdemeanors.

As we move into election season, we must ask each and every candidate what their plan is to cut crime and make our communities safer. The time of meaningless waffle is over. We now require action.

Neil Fitzgerald is an international nonprofit leader having served in the U.S., U.K. and globally for various nonprofit and charity boards. He served as a conservative council member in the U.K. and as a campaign manager. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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