Public Safety In America

A Comprehensive Overview

Public safety is a pressing issue that resonates not only in California but across the nation. In grappling with rising crime rates and evolving legislation, it’s crucial to fully understand the factors contributing to this complex landscape and discuss the measures needed to bolster public safety.

Historical Context of Crime in America

A police officer puts handcuffs on a person during an arrest.

Historically, crime rates have fluctuated dramatically, mirroring societal changes and legislative shifts. In California, the state experienced a period of low crime from 2000 to 2012, only to see crime rates surge in the following years, echoing the high crime era of the late seventies and early eighties.

However, this is not a California-only issue. Across the country, various states and cities are experiencing similar upticks in crime, underscoring the need for a nationwide discussion on public safety and crime legislation. As Steve Cooley, former Los Angeles County District Attorney and law enforcement expert, noted, “We’re going back to the high crime era of the late seventies and early eighties. And we’ve abandoned the very low crime era that existed between 2000 and 2012.”

The Role of Legislation in Public Safety

From coast to coast, laws such as California’s Proposition 47, Proposition 57, and AB 109 exemplify how legislation can have significant repercussions for public safety. Passed with the intention of reducing prison overcrowding, such measures have had unintended consequences, influencing crime rates.

In particular, Proposition 47’s reclassification of certain offenses, such as reducing all hard drugs from felonies to misdemeanors, has inadvertently led to an increase in crime rates. 

Understanding Proposition 47, Proposition 57, and AB 109

Propositions 47 and 57 sought to alleviate prison overcrowding by reclassifying certain offenses and allowing more offenders to be eligible for early parole. AB 109 shifted the housing responsibility for non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offenders from state prisons to county jails. Combined, these legislative changes have had significant negative implications for public safety.

Specifically, Proposition 47’s reclassification of hard drug possession offenses to misdemeanors has contributed to a rise in theft-related crimes. “[Prop 47] eliminated or changed the whole configuration of the theft laws. It reduced all hard drugs from being felonies to being misdemeanors,” Steve explained. That, coupled with the reduced deterrence of AB 109, has emboldened criminals, resulting in a proliferation of “smash and grab” thefts, which are often captured on surveillance cameras.

The National Impact and Citizens and Businesses

A "Sorry We're Closed" sign hangs on a business door because of public safety concerns.

These legislative changes have profound and far-reaching effects, impacting citizens and businesses alike. The surge in crime undermines public safety, leading to revenue loss, business closures, and diminishing respect for the law. 

“It’s such a loss. It’s not worth being a business when you’re losing money all the time and putting your employees at risk,” Steve said, highlighting the crisis’s magnitude.

Many businesses have closed due to the prevalence of thefts, leading to a loss of revenue and sales taxes. “The lack of enforcement and deterrence has undermined public safety and respect for the law, affecting law-abiding citizens and businesses,” he added.

Strategies for Enhancing Public Safety

Addressing public safety requires robust strategies encompassing both rehabilitation and accountability. Laws similar to Proposition 47, Proposition 57, and AB 109 across the country must be reassessed, and evidence-based policies should be implemented to enhance public safety effectively.

Nationwide, it’s essential to reclassify violent crimes as felonies, hold drug dealers accountable, and ensure local and state law enforcement agencies receive adequate funding. These measures will empower law enforcement, creating an environment conducive to long-term crime prevention.

Public Safety: A Collective Responsibility

Public safety is a shared responsibility that demands collaboration from all stakeholders, regardless of location. It requires a deep understanding of the issues, reevaluation of policies, and a commitment to collective action. It also requires knowing when a mistake in legislation occurred and having the courage to make a change. 

By fostering partnerships between citizens, law enforcement, businesses, and community organizations, we can cultivate a safe environment where security is the norm, not the exception.

We don’t have to let crime win. Together, we can build safer neighborhoods, prosperous businesses, and resilient communities, ensuring that America’s future remains bright.

Learn More About Public Safety by Listening to Our Podcast or watching the interview

The New Majority Podcast recently hosted an episode on the issue of public safety. Take a moment to watch the interview on YouTube or listen to the podcast below. 

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