As the mayor of a small city in California, I find myself increasingly concerned with the effects of the legislative push from hard-left “progressives” who blur the lines between criminals and law-abiding citizens while demonizing and demoralizing our police officers. Over the years, their policies have brought about a perfect storm of naïve and nonsensical policymaking that has an increasingly devastating impact.
The Democratic Party-ruled state legislature opened this Pandora’s Box in 2011 with its passage of AB109. The bill aimed to reduce state prison populations. Though the legislature had the opportunity to work on policies that may have actually reduced underlying crime, legislators instead chose the easy way out. By modifying parole rules and shifting the responsibility of incarceration from the state to our local counties, legislators delivered more crime and created a terrible strain on our county systems.
The consequences of AB109 are truly awful. Criminals — who would have otherwise been incarcerated — have been responsible for several murders, including a Whittier police officer in 2017.
And very recently, two burglars with prior convictions, but enabled by AB109, stabbed an elderly Carlsbad woman to death in her home.
Still, the so-called “progressive” politicians continued supporting new legislation that undermined the safety of our communities. Since 2014 — when the Left dressed up the dangerous Proposition 47 in the guise of an effort to make neighborhoods and schools “safer” — things have only gotten worse for California neighborhoods. “The Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative” lessened many crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, but it had the foreseeable effect of green-lighting the use of powerful and highly addictive drugs.
Unsurprisingly, our cities experienced a rapid increase in home invasions, shoplifting, and drug-induced violence.
Many “mom and pop” retailers now face theft on a daily basis, with one store owner in San Diego County recently estimating his losses at $60,000 per year.
Today, if a criminal steals anything worth less than $950, they only risk receiving a misdemeanor ticket. Because of Proposition 47, criminals too often walk free, toss the ticket, and commit another crime once the police are out of plain sight.
All of this has created a feeling of helplessness that I hear routinely expressed by our sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officers. But “progressives” in Sacramento refuse to acknowledge that their policies make police work both harder and more dangerous.
Instead, they make it worse and give us AB392: A bill that handcuffs police officers by redefining the parameters for the use of force with a suspect resisting arrest. This bill is dangerous and will undoubtedly result in more peace officers being injured or killed in the line of duty. Because it further redefines the use of force when dealing with a fleeing criminal, it will undoubtedly result in more harm — or worse — to law-abiding citizens who would have otherwise been spared that perpetrator’s future actions.
The onslaught of anti-law enforcement, pro-criminal laws has critical life and death consequences.
In cities across the state, municipal leaders are struggling with the rising costs of public safety. As we work to recruit and retain the next generation of police officers, California’s ultra-high cost of living and absurdly high state income taxes already make it more difficult. And if these politicians continue this foolish and naïve social experiment of blurring the lines between what’s right and wrong under the law, recruitment to California may soon become impossible.
Our leaders continue exhibiting little respect or regard for the safety of our first responders. In the face of these unnecessarily hazardous working conditions, gleefully created by Sacramento legislators, it takes a special kind of person to wear a badge.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe. And while it’s clear that “progressive” legislators don’t have their backs, the rest of us should be ready and willing to step in and fill the void. Support our cops, for they deserve nothing less.
Brian Maryott is the mayor of San Juan Capistrano, California and a candidate for Congress in California’s 49th Congressional District.
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