In May 2011 AB-109 was passed, realigning the California prison count by sentencing certain felony offenders to county jail rather than state prison and virtually eliminating parole supervision. County jails, already overcrowded, began releasing “low level offenders” in order to accommodate the misguided directive.
In November 2014 as the shock waves from AB-109 were still reverberating, voters in California passed Proposition 47, a ballot measure to reclassify many drug and property felonies as misdemeanors.
The horrible result of these laws has been an unprecedented increase in crime. In Los Angeles through August 2015, violent crime increased 20% for the same period in 2014. Property crime was up 11% and shooting victims was up by 27%. In San Francisco, violent crime was up 13%, and property crime was up 22%. Crime statistics all across California rose significantly.
The reality is that police and first responders are no longer engaged in proactive preventative policing but have focused their efforts on reactive policing for heinous and violent crimes such as armed robbery or homicide.
With the unprecedented release of drug offenders into society, there has been an increase in burglaries, home invasion robberies, and theft of property. With jail and prison time no longer a deterrent, criminals are now feeling emboldened to violate the law without impunity.
So, what are businesses and home owners to do in order to combat these predators that now roam our streets undeterred by threat of arrest and going to jail?
A security risk vulnerability assessment should be completed to assess what protective measures should be implemented to detect and deter criminals from targeting your business or home. Criminals are like the lion on the Serengeti plain; they look the water buffalo herd over to detect the weakest buffalo to identify them as their primary target.
Once a security assessment has been completed, implement some recommendations to cover your vulnerabilities such as:
Install electronic cameras to control access and egress points for both businesses and homes. Install a robust alarm system with motion detectors and window break.
Lighting in parking lots is mandatory as well as intrusion lighting to discourage criminals having the advantage of operating in the dark.
If you own and operate a business, consider requesting your janitorial vendor to conduct background checks on the employees that will be cleaning your offices. Janitors frequently have unfettered access and operate late at night with access to proprietary information as well as valuables. They can also engage in planting electronic listening devices and covert surveillance cameras. Consider having your janitorial firm clean your offices late in the afternoon so they can be held accountable.
We recommend that home owners have a dog that is protective and will alert in the event someone attempts to rob or burglarize your home.
We also recommend that neighborhoods join a private social network for instant communication where you, your neighbors and your community can talk online to instantly alert one another to any unusual activity such as folks casing homes late at night or suspicious behavior that appears inappropriate.
Owning a gun or weapon is clearly up to the individual; but if you own a weapon, know how to use it and practice with it frequently to remain proficient.
Lastly, until the pain of crime increase becomes intolerable, we will be forced to take measures to detect and deter criminal activity. DON’T BE THE WEAK BUFFALO.
Ron Williams, CFS
United States Secret Service-Retired