Touching Base: A Message from the Chief
July 14, 2013
Dear Community Members and Department Personnel:
In October 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the State of California had to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 prisoners over a three-year period following a lawsuit brought by inmates.[i]The state achieved the goal by creating legislation that transferred responsibility and supervision of formally incarcerated persons to its 58 counties.[ii] Local law enforcement officials had no input into the planning, scheduled releases, or other aspects of the reduction. The legislation that accomplished the transfer is Assembly Bill 109, the Public Safety Realignment Act.[iii] In June 2011, a companion bill (AB 117) was signed into law and further defined the responsibility of supervising certain “low-risk” offenders who were scheduled for release from state custody back to their county of legal residence. The legislation also changed the penal code and sentencing laws to allow new offenders to be sentenced to local county jails rather than state prison. From its inception, AB 109 and 117 were criticized by law enforcement officials as a drastic and hasty implementation strategy to meet the Supreme Court’s Order.[iv]
The legislation did not identify a funding source for local municipalities to help monitor, mitigate, or otherwise conduct compliance checks of the formally incarcerated persons. However, the 58 counties received state funding for the first year of AB 109 implementation (FY 2011/12), totaling approximately $14.1 million. AB 109 and 117 dictated that each county must form a Community Corrections Partnership, chaired by its Chief Probation Officer, to implement the legislation. In Los Angeles County, a partnership was created between the Los Angeles Probation and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departments to supervise, monitor, and manage the release of formally incarcerated persons. Approximately 40% of the 33,000 (+/-) prisoners returned to Los Angeles County.
In 2013, California voters pasted Prop 30, and a small stipend earmarked for local municipalities in the effort to mitigate the impacts of AB 109 and 117. [v] However, the funding will only last for a two-year cycle and is not nearly enough to cover the cost of police resources needed for prevention, intervention, and enforcement. The pure objective of AB 109 and 117 is to reduce California’s prison population. It gives counties the option to invest in alternatives to jail, which includes out-of-custody rehabilitative treatment or programs. In order to be released under the AB 109 guidelines, the offender’s crime must be non-violent, non-sexual, or non-serious related. Non, non, non” became the adopted term.
In June 2013, the Supreme Court concluded the State of California has not fully complied with its initial order (October 2012) and directed the state to release an additional 10,000 incarcerated prisoners. The governor and state attorney general returned to court to argue its full compliance; however, the three-federal-judge-panel struck down California’s legal assertion mandating the release of an additional 9,600 prisoners (the state could identify alternatives to relieve overcrowding[vi] as an option). The new re-entry cycle should begin within the next few months without further discussion or legal action.
Recognizing few options, if any, the Pasadena Police Department took aggressive steps to help mitigate the potential impact of AB 109 on our community. In 2010, the Pasadena Police Department collaborated with the Flintridge Center to create the Pasadena Altadena Reintegration Council (PARC) using current resources. The council is a network of local service providers and public agencies working to meet the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals who are returning to our communities. On release, prisoners are given $200 and sent back to the communities where they were sentenced, most with few skills and little means of support, many with mental health and substance abuse issues. Finding stable housing and jobs with a steady paycheck can be difficult, and the temptation to return to criminal life is strong. Approximately 70% of those released are re-incarcerated within three years because of a new offense or parole/probation violation. Not only is the public safety impacted, but repeat offenders strain the resources of law enforcement and the courts as the costly cycle continues.[vii] PARC is supported by the Pasadena Police Department through “direct resources,” which includes a police corporal and executive staff. However, generally speaking, the nonprofit organizations participating in PARC do not receive direct funding from the state to deal with the potential impacts of AB 109 and 117. I have personnel witnessed the value of PARC and will continue to support participation by the Pasadena Police Department. In my opinion, as a society, we must increase prevention and intervention measures if we hope to reduce the number of people entering the judicial system. [viii] And, at the same time provide resources for those individuals who are released from prison.
Enforcement, of course, must support prevention and intervention strategies. In that regard, the Pasadena Police Department led the way in the effort to create a Regional Taskforce, which is responsible for probation/parole compliance checks.[ix] Currently, six police agencies and a Los Angeles County Probation Officer comprise the West San Gabriel Valley – Anti Crime Team (WSG-ACT).[x] Thus far, the taskforce has been an effective enforcement tool in the effort to mitigate the impacts of AB 109 and 117. The taskforce’s primary mission is property crime investigations and probation/parole compliance checks. Police executives will continue to assess the value and effectiveness of the WSGV-ACT; however, at this point in time the detectives assigned to the team are doing an excellent job.
At the end of the day, Prevention, Intervention, and Enforcement (PIE) have limited returns. Property crime, city wide, is increasing while violent crime is trending downward. According to the Pasadena Police Department’s Crime Analysts Unit (CAU), Part 1 crimes in our community are currently hovering around 7% (above last year’s crime rate at the same time period). Auto Burglaries are up 20%, followed by Residential Burglaries (up 6%). Larcenies are steady at 12% over the same time period.[xi] The Pasadena Police Department Property Detectives have identified sophisticated burglary teams working our communities; however, many of the property incidents are “crimes of opportunity” and could be easily prevented. The majority of Pasadena crime victims continue to leave valuables in their cars in plain view. Or, in many cases, home-owners do not secure their residence before leaving.
See Something; Say Something. You can help create a safer community by reporting suspicious activity. If you witness a crime in progress or other emergency, please call 9-1-1. Non-emergencies can be reported at (626) 744-4241. Or you can report criminal activity to CRIMESTOPPERS at (800) 222-8477 or online at www.lacrimestoppers.org/. The Pasadena Police Department is commitment to maintaining public safety; however, we need your help. You must become part of the solution, watch after your neighbors and stay engaged.
Community safety, security, and an increase in our quality of life in Pasadena begin with personal awareness and engagement. If we hope to impact crime in our community, regardless of who is breaking the law, we must band together. Neighbors watching out for neighbors remain an effective security tactic. If you have a neighborhood watch group in your area, please consider participating. If you need help starting a program, please contact Pasadena Police Community Services at (626)-744-4551.
AB 109 and 117 are only a few of the challenges facing Pasadena. However, I believe we are well positioned to overcome them if we work together in a collaborative effort. In order to achieve this goal, you must be aware, informed, and educated about the issues. Please visit the Pasadena Police Department’s webpage frequently for program information, safety tips, crime statistics, and other valuable resources. You can find us at http://cityofpasadena.net/Police.
Phillip L. Sanchez
Chief of Police
Pasadena Police Department
207 N. Garfield Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Mission First, People Always
[ii] Prisons are state incarceration facilities and jails are county incarceration facilities. Inmates who serve a sentence that includes post-release supervision is supervised by parole if release from a prison or probation if released from jail.
[iii] AB 109 was signed into law on April 4, 2011. Subsequently, Assembly Bill 117 was signed by the Governor on June 30, 2011, further outlining provisions of realignment. Reference California Penal Code Sections 1128 – 1233.8.
[iv] For the purpose of this writing, law enforcement refers to Office of the Sheriff and municipal police departments.
[v] Temporary Taxes to Fund Education, Guarantee Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
[viii] The Pasadena Police Department implemented the Youth Accountability Board several years. The program is built on a restorative justice philosophy allowing successful diversion from the criminal courts.
[ix] The concept of the regional taskforce was born from the Pasadena Police Department’s Burglary Task Force (BTF), which was staffed early in 2011.
[x] WSGV-ACT consists of the following agencies: Pasadena, Arcadia, Monterey Park, Monrovia, South Pasadena, El Monte Police Departments and Los Angeles County Probation.