Grover Beach police are attributing a rise in the number of certain crimes last year to the implementation of the state’s voter-approved realignment of criminal sentencing.
An annual report from the Grover Beach Police Department indicated crimes such as auto thefts, petty thefts, and narcotics arrests increased from the previous years, and suggested that the realignment, commonly referred to as Proposition 47, was a possible explanation.
“It’s just not working the way they said it would,” Grover Beach Police Chief John Peters told New Times.
According to the report, the city handled more than 2,000 cases in 2015, a 5 percent increase from 2014. Of those cases, the department experienced a 7 percent increase in property crime, a 20 percent increase in petty thefts, and 71 percent increase in auto thefts. Overall, narcotics cases rose by 20 percent, but the report noted that the increase was mostly due to an uptick in misdemeanor drug arrests, which jumped from 70 to 141, while felony drug cases dropped from 54 to just 21 during the same period.
“Our misdemeanor cases were up quite a bit,” Peters told members of the Grover Beach City Council during their May 4 meeting.
The report draws a correlation between the property crime, drug arrests, and the reduced penalties for certain crimes under Proposition 47.
“The passage of Proposition 47 reduced most drug offenses to misdemeanors, and this resulted in a reduction of incarcerations for drug offenders,” the report stated. “As noted by our statistical data, our staff saw more drug-related crimes occurring, and it is known that an increase in drug-related crimes can correlate to an increase in property crimes for the same geographical area.”
The proposition was billed as a way to ease overcrowding in the state jails; reduce harsh sentences for low-level, nonviolent offenders; and save money. But while it attempts to address serious issues and inequalities within the state’s justice system, many California police departments are now dealing with unintended consequences, such as an increase in low-level property and narcotics crimes.
“I think that’s an upitck that more people associate with Prop. 47,” Peters told New Times.
However, the news wasn’t all bad for Grover Beach. The report found that the city experienced a 35 percent reduction in violent crime, including aggravated assault, which was down 48 percent from last year.