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Capt. Paul Becker: Re-alignment, parolee release may have impact

SCV Sheriff’s Department

Posted: May 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

With the passage of Assembly Bill 109 by the Senate in March 2011, a shift of responsibility for incarcerating what are deemed low-risk prisoners from state facilities to the county was implemented.

As part of this law, the state will continue to incarcerate offenders who commit serious, violent or certain types of sex crimes. Counties will now supervise, rehabilitate and manage low-level offenders.

Essentially, the bill allows the state to release "non violent" parolees, called post-release supervised persons or PSPs, into California communities.

Deputies assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, along with deputies assigned to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's newly formed Parole Compliance Team, are working to manage these PSPs by conducting address verifications and parole-compliance checks.

In addition, saturation patrol, prevention and enforcement operations are being conducted in areas deemed to be most likely impacted by these releases.

These operations also focus on types of crimes most likely to be committed by these newly released offenders if they were to re-offend.

It is the goal of Sheriff Lee Baca and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to assist these PSPs in becoming viable members of society.

To do this, new programs are being developed and implemented, and resources allocated or realigned.

Resource guides are being given to each PSP upon law enforcement contact and quarterly life skills courses are being developed to provide offenders with the educational tools, employment resources and training to reintegrate into society and reduce recidivism.

After my assessment of 2011 and early 2012 crime trends and statistics, I anticipate continued challenges throughout 2012, as we have already realized a substantial increase in many Part-1 crimes in comparison to the same period last year, including property crimes and some violent crimes.

Under my direction, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Crime Prevention Team is closely monitoring all of our crime rates and the increasing population of PSPs in Santa Clarita and crimes or re-arrests associated with them.

To date, 64 PSPs have listed Santa Clarita as their area of residence at some point, joining nearly 300 current state prison parolees, 190 registered sex offenders and countless probationers.

Of the 64 PSPs documented thus far, 19 arrests or re-arrests have occurred involving 15 of them. These early and preliminary numbers represent a 29.7 percent recidivism rate.

One offender has been re-arrested three times by Santa Clarita deputies for drugs, theft and a violation of parole conditions, all within a period of 56 days. He served a total of 15 days in county jail.

Two others have been arrested at least twice.

We are hopeful that these PSPs are the exception and not the rule as the new program takes shape.

As you can see from these small case samplings, these efforts may act only as a stopgap at best as noncompliant PSP parolees who violate the conditions of their release may only be serving a few days in jail before being released again to potentially re-offend.

The Crime Prevention Team will continue to monitor these releases closely within their respective zones.

Legitimate concerns have been raised that the increases in crime we have seen in early 2012 may have some association with these releases.

Other concerns raised include local government's ability or inability to house potential increasing population numbers in county jail facilities and the overall criminal justice system accountability of these PSPs following arrest and, in many cases, re-arrest.

Despite our early increase in violent crime this year over last year's historically low numbers, Santa Clarita currently has a lower year-to-date 2012 violent crime rate than 19 of the 23 sheriff's stations in Los Angeles County at 5.77 percent.

What impact in the long run, if any, the release of these PSP parolees into Santa Clarita will have on our community, public safety and crime rates cannot yet be fully or accurately measured. One thing certain is that a lot of resources, time and money are being expended to monitor these PSP releases, and still more when they are arrested and processed through the criminal justice system - multiple times in some cases.

Under many circumstances, the most common crime these PSP parolees were incarcerated for in the first place involved theft, so it is paramount that we identify and monitor any direct correlation to our recent increase in property-related crimes has to these releases. Associations to increases in violent crime may not necessarily be the case.

One of the new ways we are trying to combat property crimes in Santa Clarita is by working closely with local pawn shops and secondhand dealers to prevent the sale of stolen goods.

The new Regional Automated Property Identification Database program, or RAPID, has been implemented in partnership with local pawn shops and secondhand dealers.

RAPID allows the Sheriff's Department to utilize state-of-the-art technology to track stolen goods, prevent resale and return of these items to their rightful owners.

Despite these new challenges at state and local levels, it is important to know that we will work extremely hard and do everything possible that can be done here in Santa Clarita to maintain public safety and our quality of life as a top priority.

The city of Santa Clarita is working on its new annual budget, which includes a proposal for the general fund to once again increase its law enforcement budget by 6.39 percent. This is significant when you look at the city's annual budget since the recent recession, as every city department has received cuts except for law enforcement, which, since the recession, has increased 30 percent.

In addition to this year's city budget proposal to add two deputy patrol units in Canyon Country, the city is also spearheading a new drug prevention and education program - DFYIT or Drug Free Youth in Town - which is expected to launch this August in our local junior and senior high schools.

We would like to encourage you to stay engaged and involved by remaining vigilant and reporting crime.

To report crime tips anonymously, call L.A. Crime Stoppers by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.

A free TipSubmit mobile application is now available for the iPhone and Android. The new software tool is an anonymous and fully featured crime tipping mobile application that even allows you to submit images or video. More information at www.tipsoft.com.

To report graffiti in the city please call (661) 25-CLEAN (252-5326) or visit www.santa-clarita.com

Capt. Paul Becker is Santa Clarita's chief of police and can be reached at pbecker@lasd.org.

 

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