By Jason KUROSU
Glendale crime has risen this year and police say it is at least partially the result of recent state legislation that reduced prison penalties for non-violent offenders.
Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro provided a report at Tuesday night’s Glendale City Council meeting illustrating what he called “a trend that we’re going to continue to see until we can find a way to put some teeth back into [the sentences for] some of these habitual offenders.”
Castro presented data that measured Glendale crime rates for the first nine months of both 2014 and 2015, which showed particular increases in auto theft, grand theft and petty theft. According to the department’s data, petty theft is up 186% from 2014, grand theft is up 70% and auto theft is up 37%.
Drug-related crimes and cases of fraud/identity theft also increased in 2015.
Castro pinned much of the increases on two recent pieces of legislation: 2014’s Proposition 47 and 2011’s AB 109. Proposition 47, approved by voters in November 2014, reclassified drug possession and theft valued at less than $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor. AB 109, otherwise known as the Public Safety Realignment Act, mandated that those who commit non-violent, non-serious and non-sex offenses be sent to county jails rather than state prisons.
Castro said that as a result of these measures, many of these crimes are being committed by repeat offenders.
“In fact, these individuals tell us they do these type of thefts now because there is no deterrent,” he said.
Castro said that the uptick in narcotics possession also contributes to statistical rises in other types of crimes.
“There has not been put in place a solid system to divert these narcotic users to rehabilitation,” he said. “That was something that was supposed to happen. We are not seeing it yet.”
Castro advocated a retooling of Proposition 47 and AB 109, as well as more drug rehabilitation and mental health resources, as methods for helping non-violent offenders. However, the police report did indicate a 3% decrease in overall violent crimes, though assaults were on the rise.
Crime is also higher in neighboring Pasadena, Burbank and Los Angeles. Glendale recorded 13.77 Part I crimes (includes homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and theft) per 1,000 residents this year, as opposed to 20.02 in Burbank, 22.10 in Pasadena and 22.17 in Los Angeles.
Castro said that a higher crime rate can be somewhat indicative of the success on the part of law enforcement, as a higher number of arrests will lead to more statistically recorded crimes. Despite the increased number of arrests, Glendale police officers have made 35% fewer felony arrests in 2015 compared to the previous year.
A Stanford Law School study on the first year’s implementation of Proposition 47 said that 3.5% of California prisoners whose sentences were reduced under Proposition 47 were imprisoned again for later crimes.
“Although law enforcement officials in some jurisdictions have recently complained about increasing crime rates, there is no evidence that state prisoners released early under Proposition 47 are committing those crimes,” states the study, which also said that the legislation has reduced prison overcrowding statewide and will save the state over $90 million annually.
Forty-four-hundred-and-ninety-eight inmates have been released under Proposition 47 as of November, according to the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation.