LA County Sheriff expands concealed weapons permits as police defunded and region sees 95% rise in homicides

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Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles County Sheriff announced Wednesday that his department is expanding the number of approved concealed weapons permits as the region suffers rampant violent crime and a 95% rise in homicides.

In May, the county experienced a 95% increase in murder, 7% increase in rape, a 13% uptick in aggravated assaults, a 40% rise in grand theft auto, and a 22% increase in arson incidents, compared to the same time frame in 2020, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a video posted to Instagram and YouTube.

The Sheriff said the LA County crime statistics were “not good news”:

“All (increases are) huge numbers. Very troublesome and I am going to identify this as existential threat number one, particularly for people who live in communities that have a large percentage of African American and Latino residents. They are the ones in the impact zone.”

The Sheriff then blasted council members for not taking action to address the rapid crime increase, and suggested they were partially to blame:

“I have yet to hear a single motion from the Board of Supervisors addressing this, not one. On another note, related because we have less cops on the street (and) more crooks, less consequences, what could go wrong with that combination, right?”

The Sheriff was commenting about steps taken by LA County to defund the police department, including the November 2020 “Reimagine LA County” measure passed by the council that cut $145.5 million from the Sheriff’s Department budget and $49.1 million from the probation department. 

There is another cut of $143 million pending.

 

The council reversed the decision after crime spiraled out of control and voted in March to increase the Sheriff’s Department funding by $36 million, still leaving a deficit of $13.1 million. The additional cut is pending for the next fiscal year.

The County’s “care first, jail last” philosophy resulting in penalties and sentences for criminals being reduced as part of calls by Democratic leaders for justice reform, coupled with the budget cuts, has fed the crime rise, according to the Sheriff.

Villanueva announced that The Sheriff’s Department is accelerating the issuance of concealed weapons permits (CCW) in consideration of the increased crime threat to residence:

“We have made the ‘Good Cause’ standard achievable. We are recognizing the threat to residents is increasing, so we are responding accordingly.

“We are not going to the ‘shall issue’ where anyone who can fog a mirror can get a CCW permit, that’s not responsible.

“But we do want give the opportunity to the people who are responsible, pass the training, don’t have any convictions or legal limitations from being armed in public, and can establish just a good cause reason they should be armed.”

The Sheriff did not hold back his anger as he called out the actions of the LA County Board, pointing out that the Sheriff’s Department was defunded the $145 million dollars and cut by 1,310 positions. The Sheriff said the Board did not “feel that was enough,” and was now planning to cut $143 million and 77 positions:

“Considering those two things combined with a deficient of $101 million inherited when I took office at the end of 2018…

“We have been defunded, degraded our capacity to fight crime and investigate crime and hold people accountable when they commit a crime. All of that is going downhill, and not to the benefit of the residents of L.A. County. As you can judge, (the numbers) are going in the wrong direction.”

He spoke out against the Board’s support for “Measure J,” a referendum that passed in 2020 to provide “alternatives to incarceration” and fight “racial injustice” through 10% of the country’s budget:

“We have members of the Board of Supervisors who decided they wanted to ‘seize the moment’ and put Measure J on the ballot without it being vetted legally, without it actually being put to the test by having the people gather their signatures in the truly democratic way to see what the level of support is.  And then you put it with a deceptive title that somehow, we were going to reimagine things.

“Part of that reimagine, people never realized, was defunding the Sheriff’s Department. That was the biggest piece that was glossed over, intentionally, by the advocates who wrote this deceptive measure and the members of the Board of Supervisors who put it on the ballot. So, the four of you that voted for this, you own it now.”

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LA County approves pilot program for ‘guaranteed basic income’, targets recently released prisoners

May 22, 2021

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County could soon become the largest county in the country to launch a universal basic income pilot program, providing guaranteed income to poor residents. The board motioned that the pilot program target recently released female prisoners.

The $24m LA program, introduced as part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s budget proposal, released last month, would provide $1,000 a month to 2,000 families for a year. These funds can be used for any purpose.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve the pilot program.

The guaranteed basic income program would cost taxpayers $24 million. Garcetti called the program an effort to end poverty in LA:

“We’re betting that one small but steady investment for Angeleno households will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city and light a fire across our nation.

“We’re showing what it takes to fulfill Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s call for a basic income once and for all.”

County Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl co-authored a motion saying that poverty and economic opportunity are public health issues that require a broad strategic plan to address a growing wealth gap.

Their motion read:

“As we endeavor to create a more resilient economy… we must explore guaranteed income and other measures of poverty alleviation as permanent county policy, not just as an emergency measure.

“The coronavirus crisis has heightened and made more vivid what was already clear to many: The inequities in our economy have been a matter of life and death for many of our most vulnerable county residents.”

“We must fundamentally shift the idea that people who face financial insecurity have somehow failed, and instead recognize that it is the inequity and lack of access built into our economy and government assistance programs that have failed us.”

The motion instructs the County’s chief executive officer to develop the plan and find funding within 30 days.  The motion also states a broader initiative must be developed within six months.

The board directed the CEO to target women living at or below the poverty level who were released from jail in the last seven months to participate in the program.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger was the lone vote against the pilot program, expressing concerns about a lack of research into the plans and the potential for fraud:

“I am deeply concerned about the motions approved by the Board of Supervisors today to guarantee a basic income for an unspecified group of individuals over a period of at least three years.

“Implementation of `Guaranteed Basic Income’ has yet to be fully researched and vetted in a jurisdiction comparable to ours. As the largest county in the nation, we should be more diligent, thoughtful, and strategic before we implement a program of this nature.”

Barger said she would prefer the county to establish programs to help poor residents better prepare to join the workforce, such as training programs and educational opportunities:

“Our focus should be to provide care and resources that will help our entire foster youth population succeed before we expand social services to include a universal income.”

Although the pilot program will be the largest of its kind in the country, there are 12 regions that offer basic income protections to poor citizens, some of which are L.A. County districts including Stockton, Oakland, and San Francisco.

A majority of Americans oppose the government providing a guaranteed basic income, according to a survey last year by the Pew Research Center.

Support for the policy is much higher among Democrats, younger people, blacks, and Hispanics. Nearly 80% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents oppose the idea of the federal government providing a basic income of $1,000 a month.

The survey focused on benefits provided by the federal government and did not address state funding. However, funds provided to California from the Federal Government’s “American Rescue Plan,” designed to recover from the economic harm of the pandemic, could be used to help fund the program.

LA received $1.3 billion in federal stimulus funds. 

 

 

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