By Ted Gaines
Board of Equalization, former state senator
What good are tax dollars if our elected leaders don’t use them to provide citizens with basic and necessary government services? California is about to learn the hard way that all the money in the world means nothing if its leaders abandon reason and responsibility.
In the latest example of a state gone haywire, Los Angeles County’s recently-elected District Attorney, George Gascon, laid out a stunning pro-crime agenda that would be viewed as satire in most parts of the country.
Gascon is committed to a Progressive “deincarceration” agenda, and is directing his prosecutors not to enforce a host of behaviors that can only be considered crimes, regardless of the District Attorney’s ridiculous announcement. In Los Angeles County, here is only a partial list of what will no longer be prosecuted: trespassing; drinking in public; under the influence of a controlled substance; public intoxication; disturbing the peace; criminal threats; driving without a license; and, remarkably, resisting arrest. The County is essentially sanctioning attacks on police. How is that for “backing the blue?”
Gascon is saying to Angelenos that if someone comes onto your lawn, drunk, high on drugs, yelling criminal threats at you, and refuses to leave your property, that’s okay. It is a preposterous policy that undermines the civic life of Los Angeles and puts citizens at risk.
Remember that Los Angeles County is home to more than 10 million people. This is not a quirky little local policy – it affects a quarter of the state. San Francisco’s District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, actually beat Gascon to the punch in adopting the pro-crime, non-enforcement and prosecution model for his county, meaning that two of the Golden State’s major population centers are close to criminal free-for-alls.
This cannot become the model for District Attorneys around the state.
I am a taxpayer advocate who represents 10 million Californians as a Member of the State Board of Equalization, where we oversee more than $6 trillion of property that generates more than $60 billion in local tax revenue. That money is the bedrock of local government funding. Citizens paying that money rightfully have the expectation that government will act to keep them and their property safe. This is government 101. Law enforcement is hardly a rare or extravagant public service – it is fundamental and essential. It must be government’s highest priority.
Time after time governments and pro-tax groups claim that all our problems would be solved if only we had more tax dollars flowing into our coffers. I can’t think of a more powerful example of how false those claims are than the government-induced crime wave that will soon visit the unfortunate people who will be victimized by criminals with no fear of punishment.
Gascon is not being forced into these policies. This is not some dilemma foisted on him by a financial emergency. He is not claiming he is underfunded or understaffed. This is a choice, and it is the worst choice.
The way to lower incarceration is through less crime, not less enforcement and prosecution. Letting drunken, hostile people occupy private property is not a solution, it’s an insult to law-abiding citizens. It’s dangerous. It’s a slap in the face to taxpayers and to law enforcement officers who will still get calls to intervene in the many troubling situations now ignored by Los Angeles County.
A civil society only remains civil when actions have consequences. Law enforcement is the supporting framework for the peaceful society we all deserve. California can’t tear it down by giving criminals a free hand to abuse innocent victims.
Support our police and sheriffs as they do the dangerous and necessary work to keep us free from harm. Stand up to District Attorneys whose zeal to achieve their own political goals floods the streets with criminals facing no consequences. A bright California future depends on it.
Senator Ted Gaines (Ret.) was elected to represent the Board of Equalization’s First District. He is a leading taxpayer advocate and is committed to providing trustworthy and transparent representation for nearly ten million constituents in 30 counties of northern, eastern, and southern California. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Gaines.