The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is set to receive a $15.6 million grant from Gov. Gavin Newsom put forth in an effort to combat rising retail theft and crime in California.
A motion to accept the grant occurred during last week’s L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting, in which the board discussed with Sheriff Robert Luna how the money will be used to maximize efficacy.
The grant is a piece of a larger $250 million pie to be distributed to law enforcement agencies across the state. L.A. County received its portion after a “competitive grant process,” that ultimately proved to be successful on Sept. 12.
The motion to accept the grant, authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, 4th district, said the money will be used to support training, outreach to local businesses, equipment, new vehicles and overtime for personnel — mainly for LASD’s recently created retail theft task force.
“Many of our brick-and-mortar stores are just starting to recover from the financial challenges that they had during the pandemic and now for them to be hit by these organized robberies is devastating,” said Hahn.
Hahn went on to say the rise in organized retail theft has been a growing concern among her constituents, the board and the LASD. Luna detailed the new task force by saying it will comprise three teams — north, south and central — and operate out of the department’s major crimes bureau.
Each team will have one sergeant, seven detectives, and two vehicles, with each team being supervised by a detective lieutenant. The task force will be incorporated into the existing burglary robbery task force and will partner with other law enforcement agencies throughout the county and state.
In the past two weeks since it was created, the task force made 32 felony arrests, six misdemeanor arrests, recovered five firearms and recovered over $16,000 worth of stolen merchandise, according to Luna.
“This grant will allow us to continue to aggressively investigate retail theft and allow us to properly equip our teams with the necessary equipment to continue to support the mission that I just described,” said Luna. “It’s only the beginning and I hope the community hears this loud and clear.”
Out of the five residents who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, three represented the JusticeLA Coalition in opposition to the county accepting the grant. Their arguments against it were based on the belief that LASD was receiving more funding than it needed and that all of its funding lacked oversight.
“I think when we think about retail thefts, a lot of the time, again, we’re only addressing the consequences, we’re not preventing retail thefts,” said Janet Asante. “Whether crime goes up or crime goes down they’re going to be here requesting more money from you, from the state, from our country.”
The motion to accept the grant was passed unanimously.