Our View | Rising Crime: It’s Not Your Imagination

Our View

By The Signal Editorial Board

They say that one of the definitions of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

We love Santa Clarita.

We love working here, we love living here.

We love raising our families here.

We love the people and we love the city.

The Signal is very proud to be the community’s newspaper for 105 years — a milestone we’re marking this coming Wednesday. 

Much has changed, but the constant has been the close-knit nature of the community and the desirability of the SCV as a place to call home.

The city of Santa Clarita is very well run by City Manager Ken Striplin and the City Council. The city is fiscally responsible and on budget even though the city keeps adding millions of dollars on “quality of life” services and amenities such as exercise steps at Central Park, an ice rink, community centers, an archery range and, coming soon, a roller rink.

Public safety? 

The city is relatively safe and has been for a long time. Santa Clarita is a routine presence on those “safe city” lists put out with regularity by government agencies, organizations and media outlets.

But with governmental policy changes out of the city’s control, the city is getting less and less safe all the time, especially as Los Angeles becomes crime-ridden and gang-infested.

The current district attorney for the county of Los Angeles is George Gascón. Starting on his first day in office, he made you less safe. He made you and your family and homes more vulnerable to crime.

On his first day in office, he issued a series of directives to the entire L.A. County District Attorney’s Office. 

Those directives included, among other things:

• A “presumption” of pretrial release for crime suspects, without bail, unless there’s a “substantial likelihood” release would cause a significant public safety threat.

• Entire categories of crimes not to be prosecuted. “The misdemeanor charges specified … shall be declined or dismissed before arraignment and without conditions unless ‘exceptions’ or ‘factors for consideration’ exist,” Gascón wrote. Those charges include trespassing, disturbing the peace, unlicensed driving, criminal threats, drug possession, drunk in public, loitering and prostitution, among others.

• The DA’s office would no longer pursue sentencing enhancements, such as prior “strikes” and special circumstances enhancements. 

• A refusal to seek the death penalty, no matter how heinous the crime. And, the DA’s office would refrain from seeking an execution date for those already sentenced to death.

• A resentencing provision calling for his office to reevaluate and consider resentencing all people who have already served 15 years in prison. 

• Juveniles accused of misdemeanors would not be prosecuted. 

The results, throughout Los Angeles County, have spoken for themselves over the past three years. It’s become common knowledge among the citizenry and criminals alike, that if you get picked up for a crime, you’ll be released within hours and free to commit another crime once again. 

And that’s exactly what happens.

In Santa Clarita?

Robberies are up 39% in the city, and 28% overall in the SCV from last year.

Burglaries are up 19%.

Auto thefts are up 22%.

Arson is up 95%.

Thefts are up 5%.

Criminal homicides increased from one in 2022 to six in 2023.

These are huge increases while at the same time misdemeanor filings are down 50%.

Gascón won’t allow the deputy district attorneys to do their job and he refuses to file charges on any theft crimes valued at less than $900.

So, we have a decrease in criminal prosecution filings and an increase in crime.

It’s not the sheriff’s fault.

It’s not the city’s fault.

It’s not even the criminals’ fault. After all, if there are no consequences for bad behavior, why change?

It’s Gascón’s fault.

He is to blame, for not charging and prosecuting the offenders and allowing a small group of criminals to commit crime after crime after crime.

The vast majority of crimes are committed by a small percentage of the population.

We need to vote out Gascón and his policies. We need him out now.

In this space one week ago, we endorsed Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, a Santa Clarita resident and child abuse crime prosecutor, in the primary race for district attorney on March 5. He is the right prosecutor for the job now.  

We need to start putting the criminals in jail, where they belong.

If we allow George Gascón to remain in office …

We are insane.

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