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By Dena Burroughs
Juventino Gomez, President of the Independent Cities Association, speaks backed by dozens of police officers representing several Los Angeles County cities. -Photo by Dena Burroughs
Police officers representing a wide range of cities in the Los Angeles County, including El Monte, South Pasadena, Monrovia, Arcadia, Downey, South Gate, Montebello, and Glendora, gave a press conference regarding Realignment Thursday morning outside the El Monte Civic Center.
Led by El Monte Mayor Pro-Tem Juventino Gomez, who is also the President of the Independent Cities Association, they gathered to call attention to the challenges that the municipalities are facing and will continue to face due to the enactment of California Assembly bills AB109 and AB117, commonly known as the “Public Safety Realignment.”
What Realignment entails is that, since October 2011, offenders considered non-serious, non-sexual, and non-violent began to be moved from California state prisons to county jails, the county probation system, and county courts. Some are receiving early releases back into the communities. Statewide, thousands of people who used to be the responsibility of the State are instead being supervised and housed by local county and sheriff departments.
Local law enforcement considers Realignment a bad public policy that has overwhelmed the county reserves and its jail space and that puts in jeopardy victims’ safety and rights. It has resulted in the improper supervision of parolees, shorter incarceration times, and the closing of several county court houses. Those in attendance were reminded that people who end up in prison are not first-time offenders, but repeat offenders who in average have five local felonies before they get put in a State prison. These are the folks that are being catalogued as non-serious, non-sexual, and non-violent offenders and put back on the street. “But changing the name does not change the offender type,” said Gardena Chief of Police Ed Medrano. To keep proper public safety, more police officers and more resources must be put in place, but it all costs money.
“We are here,” he continued, “to bring awareness about this transformation that has happened to the system. Proposition 30 contains funding to go towards law enforcement and we are asking that those funds be given to the cities.”
“Look at all of these people in front of you,” said Gomez. “These are elected officials and police officers representing many of our cities. This is the infantry keeping our cities safe. But no infantry can do its job without support or funding. We are here to send this message to Sacramento.”