Reports Show Crime Increasing Across California

By Mike Rushford

Libra Tatt2A recently released report from California’s Police Chiefs indicates that the 2015 increases in property and violent crime in the state’s largest cities is also occurring in smaller communities across the state.  The report, released in late April by the California Police Chiefs Association, projects that California cities with populations less than 100,000 suffered a 15.25% increase in property crime and a 15.41% increase in violent crime in 2015, while smaller cities outside of California are projected to have had a 6.5% drop in property crime and only a 1.3% increase in violent crime.

 
In January the FBI released its Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, which counts crimes in cities with populations of 100,000 or more.  For California the report showed a 12.9% increase in violent crime and a 9.2% increase in property crime from January through June 2015.  The same report found that large cities outside of California had just a 1.7% increase in violent crime and a 4.2% drop in property crime.  The chiefs report noted that the increase in property crime in those California cities is the largest year-over-year increase since at least 1960, while the increase in violent crime is the largest year-over-year increase since 1990.

 

The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which has been tracking crime rates in California since 1982, attributed the increases to the state legislature’s 2011 adoption of AB109, the Governor’s so called “Public Safety Realignment” law, and Proposition 47, an ACLU-sponsored initiative which spent $8 million (mostly out of state contributions), to convince voters that downgrading drug and theft felonies to misdemeanors would improve public safety.

 

“Realignment and Proposition 47 have left the vast majority of California’s criminals in communities which do not have the jail capacity to confine them or the resources to even keep track of them,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.  “As many in law enforcement predicted, this has caused major increases in both violent and property crimes and turned thousands of law-abiding Californians into victims,” he added.

 

A recent example involves the May 12 arrest of ex-convict Edgar Alexander Lobos for the forcible rape of a 31-year-old woman in a Los Angeles park 12 hours after his release from jail.  Because of Realignment, he was released after serving just 1/3 of his sentence for a drug-related parole violation.

 

The Foundation also noted that it is probably not a coincidence that after felony drug possession was downgraded to a misdemeanor in 2014 by Proposition 47, communities across the state are reporting dramatic increases in fatal drug overdoses.  Orange County recently reported 400 fatal overdoses last year, the most since 2005, and in April, the DEA reported 42 overdoses with 10 deaths in Sacramento just since late March.

Mike Rushford is the Executive Director of the Sacramento based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

Fat Cats & Bureaucrats

Let’s set the record straight.

 

Search - Brad

Brad Dennis & Cheyenne

On February 4, 2014 an FBI press release publicized the recovery of 16 children during a Super Bowl sex trafficking sting. Many of the children traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically to be prostituted at the Super Bowl. The children ranged in age from 13 to 17-years old, including high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.  Additionally, more than 45-pimps and their associates were arrested during the Blitz the Traffickers sting operation. Arrests were made and victims recovered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

 

A coalition of grass roots nonprofit organizations (NPO) partnered with law enforcement on Blitz the Traffickers, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was the only NPO mentioned in the FBI release. According to GuideStar, in 2012, NCMEC received a $31,715,505 grant from the United States Department of Justice to pursue their mission of helping to prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them. The NCMEC (2012) IRS Form 990 allocates $11,407,540 to, “Provide technical assistance and provide case analysis to assist law enforcement in their efforts to locate and recover missing children and victims of domestic child sex trafficking and to locate and apprehend noncompliant sex offenders”.

 

The NCMEC did not put boots on the ground at Super Bowl XLVIII. Instead, they distributed names and photographs of children they believe might be trafficked to the authorities; and they equipped law enforcement with “hope bags” containing items like flip flops and toothpaste for children rescued from prostitution. This is not a lot of bang for your buck.

Stop Sex Exploitation

Under the leadership of Search and Rescue Director Brad Dennis, KlaasKids, which receives no government funding, has been working with the New Jersey State Police since May 2013 and has participated in several of their sting operations leading up to the big game.  We were embedded with the law enforcement Super Bowl operation from January 28-February 1.  During this time, KlaasKids worked in direct contact with Federal and State intelligence analysts providing information to the operational elements of the law enforcement operation. Our role was two-fold: Providing specific leads regarding online advertisements which had a number of indicators suggesting the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Our most beneficial role was to provide additional analysis to any lead the FBI/NCMEC or other agencies provided to the intelligence unit. Our ability to conduct deep-web searches and scrub the initial ad looking for corroborative information enabled us to provide enhanced intelligence to the undercover operation, as well as, to the interviewers.

In Our BackyardThe KlaasKids Foundation was but one component in a nonprofit coalition that participated in the Blitz the Traffickers operation. For more than a year  Nita Belles worked with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and local trafficking task forces to overcome operational obstacles and ensure the success of Blitz the Traffickers. The Pensacola based Called2Rescue team provided monitoring services of online escort ads and forwarded over 200-leads to the KlaasKids team in New Jersey. KlaasKids then scrubbed those leads for additional corroboration and submitted 23-specific leads to law enforcement. Several of these leads were in neighboring areas/states and were forwarded to those respective units by the FBI analysts. Free International and StudentReach developed a school assembly program featuring a state-of-the-art 3D multi-media production to prevent child exploitation and features posters of several of the missing children to 30-schools and 6-colleges in New Jersey. Global Child Rescue and Stop Sex Exploitation mobilized local faith based partners to disseminate the awareness posters and missing child books throughout New York and New Jersey.

Free International School Assembly

Free International School Assembly

5000-booklets containing images of 43-regional missing children along with 75,000-football cards featuring 3-missing children were distributed in New Jersey and Times Square, NY.  40,000-human trafficking awareness posters, designed by the Attorney General’s office featuring the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline were disseminated. Specific highlights of the Blitz the Traffickers operation included: 16-minors rescued.  27-pimps and/or associates were arrested in New Jersey and 17 in New York.

Global Child Rescue

Unlike the Arlington, VA based NCMEC and Washington, DC headquartered Polaris Project, the Blitz the Traffickers nonprofit coalition did not receive government funding. However, while NCMEC sent pictures and bags full of shampoo and water bottles, and the Polaris Project whined, the Super Bowl nonprofit coalition got busy. They directly assisted in rescuing children, apprehending pimps, and raising awareness about an issue that touches our soul deeply.

Called to Rescue

It seems to me that if American citizens are going to financially support missing child and anti-trafficking nonprofit organizations, they should expect a response that influences policy change through action, dedication and determination. Instead, our national treasure is being squandered on fat cats and bureaucrats.  As a nation we deserve better than that.

More Evidence of Rising Crime Under Realignment

By Michael Rushford

cuffsWith the recent FBI release of preliminary crime statistics for the first six months of 2012, and continuing reports on local crime from news organizations and police agencies across the state, it is becoming increasingly clear that something happened in California last year that caused a sharp increase in virtually every major category of crime.  The FBI report found a small increase nationally in violent and property crime driven by larger increases in the West.  Since the sweeping changes in sentencing under Governor Jerry Brown’s Public Safety Realignment law took effect in October 2011, the California-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been monitoring criminal activity across the state to gauge the law’s effect on public safety.

 

While the reports we have collected from local law enforcement agencies over the past year and the recent preliminary report from the FBI are not proof of a trend, they do show a large and abrupt, across-the-board increase in California crime rates which is disturbing.

 

The Criminal Justice League Foundation noted that, in a January 28, 2013 report, researchers at the University of Minnesota identified a downward national trend in crime, citing better technology and changing social dynamics.  In December, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg boasted that his city’s declining incarceration rate and improved policing had caused a dramatic decrease in major felonies.

FBI Preliminary Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report

FBI Preliminary Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report

The recent FBI report tells a different story.  Over the first six months of 2012, violent crime in New York City increased by 3.9% and property crime climbed 6.1%.  But not all large states saw increases, Florida and Texas, both of which have reduced some incarceration rates but maintain tough-on-crime sentencing policies, saw only slight increases or declining rates.  States which have been more aggressive at reducing the incarceration of felons, particularly along the West Coast have reversed the trend of reduced crime in recent years and saw rising rates of both violent and property crimes.

 

California’s increase has been the most dramatic.  The FBI report for 2011 had crime dropping in all categories compared to the previous year.  The preliminary report for 2012 shows significant increases.  In a February 3, 2013 Pasadena Star-News story, the Police Chiefs of Pasadena, Glendale, and Covina expressed their concerns about rising crime caused by Realignment.  “This is a dangerous public policy,” Glendale Police Chief Brian De Pompa told reporters.  “Without strong state prison accountability, it’s hard to control crime.”

 

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon disagrees.  His city has embraced the evidence-based rehabilitation and probation approach to most felons, an approach praised by the ACLU.  In a January 19, 2013 Los Angeles Daily News story, Gascon said, “I know that we cannot incarcerate our way out of this problem.”  Unfortunately, according to a January Associated Press story, the homicide rate in San Francisco increased by 36% last year, and the trend is continuing.  On January 1, 2013, documented gang member David Morales, 19, allegedly killed two people while being pursued by police in San Francisco.  Morales is suspected of having driven through a housing complex and shooting at three men.  Police matched the description of the vehicle involved in the shooting to Morales’s car.  Officers then tried to pull him over.  In the ensuing high-speed chase, Morales rammed into a car at an intersection and sent it spinning into a pedestrian.  Both the passenger of the car, 29-year-old Silvia Tuncun, and the pedestrian, 26-year-old Francisco Gutierrez, were killed.  Morales’s most recent conviction was in April 2012 for gang activity which, under Realignment, left him free on probation at the time of the killings .

 

Something happened in California last year that has caused a major shift in crime rates. Excuses by supporters of the Governor’s Realignment are of little comfort to Californians who have lost friends or loved ones to so-called ‘low-level’ felons left in our communities because of this dangerous law.