Restoring Safety Throughout California –
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I will advocate for the reallocation of non-crime related functions such as parking enforcement and traffic accident response, as well as, reallocating funds to add a social work component that addresses “social problem” calls such as homelessness, suicide and mental illness. In addition, I will advocate for increased funding for additional training on de-escalation techniques, interpersonal communications skills and working with less-than-lethal equipment. The eventual outcome will be less lethal encounters by police, improved relations between the people and the police, more social assistance provided to the mentally ill and homeless as well as a reduced burden on the court system. Funding will come from a reallocation of police department budgets.
We do need to address Gun Control. We need to crack down on gun trafficking and the illegal manufacturing of “ghost guns” that are flooding our streets with untraceable and illegal high-powered rifles that are weapons of war. I will support establishing and expanding Police department Gun Units that coordinate and partner with State and Federal agencies. Also, I support employing ‘Precision Policing’ strategies to concentrate resources around the worst offenders and high-crime areas to address the ‘demand-side’ of the problem. The New York Police Department’s shift to a surgical form of ‘Precision Policing’ has been showing extremely positive results. Moreover, I support efforts to take guns away from those deemed too much of a risk to own them such as the Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS) program, which gives local authorities a way to remove guns from individuals who have lost their right to possess them because of violent crimes, serious mental health issues or, active restraining orders.
Another thing we need to crack down on is Property Crime. California’s Proposition 47 went too far when it set $950.00 as the minimum for a felony charge on a per incident basis. And elected District Attorneys selectively enforcing some laws and not others cannot continue. I will advocate for a revision to Proposition 47 as well as to compel District Attorneys to prosecute all crimes. Criminals need to know that any crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony, will be prosecuted.
We also need to address the link between mental health and crime and build alternative response systems. The deployment of support geared towards managing and de-escalating mental health crises will allow for a more appropriate crisis response and free up Police to do the work they were trained to do. By hiring mental health first responders that assist Police and Fire units on calls, those with mental health issues will be treated humanely and without the unnecessary use of force. Also, in recognition of the disproportionately high rates of diagnosable mental health issues amongst incarcerated juveniles and adults, addressing the root cause of individuals’ incarceration could significantly improve public safety and reduce the high costs of incarceration. Providing a wide array of treatment options that focus on treating and rehabilitating individuals can help prevent crimes before they’re committed, as opposed to using punishment as a deterrence mechanism.
I am an advocate for reform at the State and County Levels, especially around juveniles and those with mental health or substance addiction issues. We should invest more in rehabilitating offenders, both during and after incarceration. Prison should not be a place for criminals to hone their skills or become hardened. Prison should be a place where we do all we can to rehabilitate those who have lost their way, not lock them up and forget about them until they are released.
Lastly, we need to expand the prevention programs that work. We need to dedicate more resources to gang intervention agencies, increase quality housing options in the reentry programs and expand youth prevention and afterschool programs. We need to address societal issues at the root and take collective responsibility for building and implementing holistic solutions, especially as it relates to the youth. Programs that reduce the risk of joining a gang by addressing the youth at the individual, family and peer levels, while increasing protective factors against gang joining, are proven methods to prevent at-risk youth from engaging in violent behaviors or substance abuse later in life.