L.A. County Sheriff Blames Proposition 47 for Crime Increase

The passage of Proposition 47 has played a “significant role” in Los Angeles’ rising crime rate, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in an interview with the Associated Press Thursday. McDonnell’s comments come on the heels of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department report showing a 3.39 percent increase in violent crime and a 6.9 percent increase in property crime. Mid-year statistics released by the Los Angeles Police Department also show a 13 percent increase in crime since the start of the year, reversing a 12-year decline.

“We had 10 years of crime reductions, we were at 50-year lows in many areas on crime statistics, and all of a sudden, right after November when 47 kicked in that changed and fairly dramatically, very quickly,” McDonnell said. “It would be naive to say that 47 didn’t play a major role in that.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck have also addressed possible effects of the new law, which reduced many non-violent felonies to misdemeanors. While savings from the program were supposed to fund drug treatment programs, that hasn’t happened—in part because there have been no savings in Los Angeles County.

One of the major problems with the new law, McDonnell added, is that it took away incentives for drug addicts to seek treatment. As a result, more addicts are out on the street without any form of therapy. The initiative has also rendered DNA databases less useful, he said, because people charged with Proposition 47-related crimes aren’t required to give samples.

Proposition 47 was approved by a majority of voters in November of 2014, despite warnings from law enforcement officials across the state. The previous month, 56 county sheriffs signed a letter opposing the measure, saying it would place communities at risk by reducing penalties for a number of grave offenses, including gun theft, possession of narcotics and date rape drugs, and identity fraud.

Read more about Sheriff McDonnell’s recent comments here.

Image Credit: Flickr User chrisyarzab, https://flic.kr/p/9qYUSa via (CC BY 2.0)