A California sheriff criticized politicians for caving to what he called a “far-left agenda” that is fueling rising crime across parts of the Golden State.
“We’re just in a complete state of dysfunction,” Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco told Fox News. “The far left is 100% anti-police, anti-sheriff, anti-public safety, pro-criminal. They are 100% pro-criminal.”
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Bianco said politicians have chipped away at public safety in California for about a decade, starting with Assembly Bill 109, which transferred responsibility for some inmates and parolees from state authorities to county jails and probation officers.
Then voters approved Prop 47 in 2014, which changed crimes like theft of goods under $950 and drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors. It reduced California’s prison population by more than 13,000 inmates.
Two years later, Prop 57 enabled inmates to shorten their sentences through good behavior.
“There is no political will in this state to get ahold of crime,” Bianco said.
Riverside County spans more than 7,000 square miles — larger than the state of Connecticut — southeast of Los Angeles.
“All we see on TV is just more and more violent crimes and vehicle takeovers and thefts,” Bianco said. “People are afraid to go outside of their houses. They’re afraid to let their kids go to the park. They’re afraid to let their kids walk to school.”
Crime ticked up in California following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — violent offenses increased about 5.6% statewide from 2020 to 2021 and property crimes increased around 2% over the same time frame. But both figures remained far below historic levels seen during the gang wars of the early 1990s, data from the California Department of Justice shows.
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In Riverside County, both violent crime and property crime continued to trend downward during the pandemic, dropping 0.6% and 5.1% respectively from 2020 to 2021.
Statewide 2022 figures are not available yet, but the number of incidents the Riverside Police Department responded to last year fell slightly compared to 2021, according to a city database.
Bianco described the majority of Democrats in California politics as good people who want to make a difference, but said the state government is “run by an extreme far-left agenda” based on emotion, not facts.
“You have the majority of Democrats, Democrat legislators that just don’t want to buck the system,” he said. “They don’t want to stand up to these lunatics that are running our state.”
Lawmakers in California have in recent years voted to limit gang-related sentence enhancements, allow loitering related to prostitution and automatically seal conviction and arrest records for most offenders not convicted of another felony within a four-year timeframe.
A bill under consideration would prevent police from using K-9s for arrests or crowd control.
A bill in California’s state assembly would prevent police from using K-9s in incidents where the dogs might bite someone. (iStock)
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“There is not one bill that will get through the Public Safety Committee if it adds a sentence or a punishment,” Bianco said. “If the criminal is going to be held accountable by time in jail or time in prison, the Public Safety Committee will not allow that bill to even make it for a vote.”
Bianco said law enforcement and law-abiding Californians have “zero help” from their legislators.
“They are part of the problem, if not the entire problem,” he said.
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.