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Orangevale Sun

Sheriff Cooper Supports Initiative to Restore Safety to Our Neighborhoods and Communities

Mar 26, 2024 03:46PM ● By Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office News Release
Sheriff Jim Cooper. Photo courtesy of Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - In 2014, the voters passed Proposition 47 (Prop 47). Those who wrote the initiative deceived the public by naming it the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” I actively opposed Prop 47 because it was clear to me that this initiative would severely hurt our communities and eliminate much-needed programs to ensure the public’s safety. The proposition nearly decriminalized narcotic possession for personal use, including fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. 

It also made retail theft very lucrative for serial thieves by reducing penalties to virtually the same as receiving a traffic ticket. It also prohibited adding the dollar amounts from multiple thefts, resulting in an illegal industry in which career thieves could repeatedly steal with minor consequences. 

However, the most damage caused by Prop 47 was the decimation of mandated drug and alcohol courts that were used to get people help in lieu of jail time. Just in Sacramento alone, drug court participation dropped over 70% because of the so-called “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” 

After its passage, I spent eight years in the California Legislature attempting to correct the reckless impacts of Prop 47. After many attempts to amend the proposition, California courts and Legislative legal counsel deemed that Prop 47 could not be fixed by the Legislature and had to be returned to the voters for any meaningful amendments. In 2020, because the only way to return to common sense and restore public safety was through the action of the voters, I was one of the proponents of Proposition 20 (Prop 20), which would have fixed the problems we are all witnessing today. 

Once again, the advocates for criminal lawlessness lied to the voters, claiming that Prop 20 would result in “mass prison incarceration.” Sadly, that measure failed, and the problem of rampant retail theft, homelessness, and drug addiction has only gotten worse.

As Sacramento County Sheriff, I have witnessed first-hand the horrific problems brought about by Prop 47 in our community. It continues to devastate businesses of all sizes and types. Many small community-based businesses have been driven to the brink of closure.  Additionally, the catastrophic impacts of Prop 47 on drug addiction left untreated cannot be denied in Sacramento. Without the ability of the courts to mandate drug treatment, many people’s lives continue to be ravaged by addiction, leading to homelessness and death.

As Sheriff, I have tried to address the homeless and theft crisis. Through our intervention efforts, data has been collected and analyzed, which shows in Sacramento County alone, 66% of our homeless population has a drug or alcohol addiction. I have also conducted major retail theft operations. One operation named “Operation Bad Elf” netted over 300 misdemeanor arrests for retail theft in just a 7-day period. This is nothing short of unabated lawlessness caused by Prop 47’s misguided provisions promoting criminal behavior with no accountability. 

I conducted these operations because I refuse to have the citizens of Sacramento County be victims of the unjust laws created by Prop 47. However, those arrests are still misdemeanors and operations that size are costly to the taxpayer and unsustainable.  Furthermore, those addicted to drugs and alcohol will continue to have their lives caught in substance abuse turmoil until we have the courage to mandate their treatment. I will continue doing what the law allows me to keep you safe and increase your quality of life, but it will not be enough. 

This is why I am endorsing the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act Initiative, which is in the qualification phase and if qualified, it will give the voters an opportunity to amend the dangerous and failed aspects of Prop 47. 

This initiative will classify repeated retail thefts as a felony if they have two or more theft convictions. It allows for stolen property values to be combined so serial thieves can be charged with a felony if that amount exceeds $950.

Also, it adds fentanyl to the list of hard drugs that are illegal to possess with a firearm, enacts the “treatment mandated felony” that would give drug addicts the option to get treatment instead of going to jail, and allows drug-addicted offenders who successfully complete drug and mental health treatment to avoid jail time.

This initiative does not repeal Prop 47, does not lead to “mass incarceration,” and is necessary because the California Legislature cannot, by statute, fix the chaos created by Prop 47. It must be fixed by the voters. 

I urge you to join me in this effort to return our neighborhoods and schools to safer places that have been devastated by Prop 47.

-Sheriff Jim Cooper

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