Gov. Gavin Newsom Friday announced new measures to fight a statewide rise in property and violent crimes, including a rash of smash-and-grab robberies targeting retailers and follow-home attacks in the Los Angeles area.
In unveiling his “Real Public Safety Plan,” Newsom said he will ask for $255 million in competitive grants for law enforcement to address organized shoplifting attacks, and $30 million to help prosecutors fight retail, auto and rail theft crime.
Newsom said his plan would create a new program to help small businesses that have been the victims of smash-and-grab heists.
Additionally, Newsom announced grants for small retailers that have been hit by crowds of shoplifters, and promised to propose a new law that would allow citizens to sue sellers of homemade “ghost guns” and makers of unlawful assault weapons.
“We’re doubling down on our public safety investments and partnerships with law enforcement officials up and down the state to ensure Californians and small businesses, said Newsom, who made the announcement from the California Highway Patrol’s Dublin Area office in Alameda County.
Newsom announced the plan alongside Attorney General Rob Bonta, CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray and other state and local leaders.
“Through robust new investments and ongoing coordination with local agencies, this plan will bolster our prevention, deterrence and enforcement efforts to aggressively curb crime, hold bad actors to account and protect Californians from the devastating gun violence epidemic,” Newsom said.
The California Retailers Association applauded the Democratic governor’s attention to organized retail crime.
“There is no simple solution for reversing this trend, but the governor’s retail theft budget package is a big first step toward eliminating (organized retail crime) that has victimized our employees, customers, and the communities we serve,” said Rachel Michelin, president and CEO of the association.
But several Republican lawmakers reacted by saying Newsom’s proposal is too little, too late.
“While Democrats around the state are scrambling to evade the fallout from a decade of pro-criminal policies, they can’t hide from their record of zero bail, defunding the police and pathetically light sentences for criminals who repeatedly prey on innocent Californians,” said Assembly Public Safety Committee Vice-Chair Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale.
“More funding for law enforcement is a good thing, but it won’t make a dent in the crime wave if radical prosecutors let criminals out as they’re caught and state lawmakers continue watering down penalties for breaking the law.”
Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said the “Democrats’ relentless push for their `criminals first’ agenda has turned this once-majestic state into a sanctuary for criminals. It shouldn’t have taken increasing homicide rates, widespread news reports of smash-and-grabs, and pleas from Californians for Democrats to come to this realization.”
While long-term crime trends in California are down in almost every category, there has been an apparent recent uptick in organized retail theft and follow-home robberies involving firearms.
“Every family in every neighborhood in California deserves to feel safe and be safe as they live, work and play in their communities,” Bonta said.
“That’s what the Real Public Safety Plan is about — keeping Californians safe by doubling down and allocating additional resources to fight and prevent crime. My office is proud to partner with the governor in this effort, and build upon our existing work to combat organized retail crime, dismantle gangs, defend our commonsense gun laws, and hold those who commit crime accountable.”
Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, commended the plan for focusing on stores still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic but now facing the impacts of retail theft during the holiday season.
The plan “strengthens law enforcement’s presence to prevent retail theft, while also providing support for small businesses who have been victim of these crimes,” Bradford said.