Fontana police cite rapid rise in property crimes since start of early-out program for prisoners
A recent increase in property crimes has Fontana police wondering if Assembly Bill 109, the Public Safety Realignment Plan, is to blame.Fontana police officials can’t say the two are absolutely related, but they are pointing out that the increase in auto theft, burglary, arson and larceny became a reality after realignment went into effect.
“We can find no other logical explanation for the increase in crime other than realignment,” said Police Chief Rod Jones.
AB 109, which results in the early release of some inmates from jail, went into effect on Oct. 1.
Between January and August, property crimes went up 5 percent compared to the previous year, Jones said. But in the months following realignment, property crimes increased 20 percent to 25 percent.
“They went up at least four times as much … the last past of the year,” he said.
In Ontario, it’s a different story as property crimes have stayed flat, officials said.
“It’s such a small sampling of time,” said Ontario police Sgt. David McBride. “There is no accurate way to correlate the early release of individuals and any change of crime statistics.”
It would be better to wait until a full year passes to get a more accurate picture, McBride said.
Jones agreed that there will be more conclusive evidence in time.
“After a year, two years, we will see people released who reoffend, and we can track those things,” Jones said.
But Fontana police officers are frustrated with the new bill.
“It’s very discouraging and doesn’t serve as any kind of deterrent for these guys,” said Fontana police Sgt. Billy Green. “There are people we arrest for burglary – we have confirmed that they kicked in a door and burglarized a home, which is a felony crime – and they are getting out of jail in 14 hours.”
In addition to the lack of jail time, Green said he is frustrated with the exceptions in the Penal Code of crimes for which those convicted are not eligible for early release.
“Penal Code 598c – the possession or importation of horse meat – is not eligible for AB109 for early release,” Green said. “But burglary is.”
To air their frustrations, and ask for front-line public safety funding, Jones has eight appointments Tuesday with local legislators.
“Our budgets are strapped the same way theirs is,” Jones said. “We’ve got to have funding for this.”