CONCORD (KPIX 5) — An East Bay police chief says he believes there is a connection between California’s prison realignment policy and an increase in crime in his city.
Under the prison realignment policy, newly-convicted low-level offenders without current or prior serious or violent offenses stay in county jail to serve their sentence, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Repeat offenders usually serve shorter sentences in county jails instead of prison.
Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger says his department spends a lot of time dealing with an increase in auto thefts – much more than a year ago.
“And almost to the T, everyone that we arrested had priors for stealing cars,” said Swanger.
In Concord, auto thefts are up 82 percent during the first 5 months of this year compared to last year. Property theft from autos is also up 69 percent. If this continues, Swanger predicts 900 car thefts by the end of the year.
“I believe that has something to do with realignment,” said Swanger. “How that connection takes place, I’m not sure. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I know all the chiefs in this county are concerned about it.”
“This is the most dramatic change in law enforcement in the last 50-60 years.”
Chief Probation Officer Philip Kader’s Department added a dozen staffers to keep an eye on the convicted criminals the state used to monitor.
“This population is pretty prolific at committing crime,” said Kader. “So if the question is have they impacted local jurisdictions and may be committing criminal activity. The answer is certainly yes.”
However, Kader said he’s not convinced there is a direct link between an increase in crime and the criminals who are transferred to local jurisdictions.
Maybe not, but Concord’s police chief believes better supervision of those on probation, and making auto theft and burglary a priority could turn things around. But that comes at a price.
“I believe if there were more revenue we could do even better, but I don’t’ want to sound like a typical government worker saying money, money, money,” said Kader. “It’s being most efficient with the revenue we get.”