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In 2014 Proposition 47, a ballot measure that downgraded some drug and property felonies to misdemeanors, may have had a serious impact in arrest numbers throughout the state. In fact, from 2013 to 2015 the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) arrest numbers dropped by 25 percent, The Los Angeles Times reports. But Prop 47 may not be the only reason for the decrease in arrests, a pattern that has been recognized beyond Southern California.

While Proposition 47 may diminish the perceived value of arresting and processing individuals for certain drug and property crimes, because such perpetrators will not spend much time behind bars, law enforcement officials have also intimated that staff shortages and deployment strategy changes may be playing a role in the decrease, according to the article. Despite the wane in overall arrest rates, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck pointed out that arrests for the worst crimes have been on the rise.

Given the paradigm shift in thinking across the country regarding treating addicts versus arresting them, a drop in drug arrests could be a good sign that some people are getting the help they need. Chief Beck believes the decrease is predominantly the result of fewer drug possession arrests.

In the LA-area, there is evidence of an increase in crime, but a decrease in arrest since 2014. Naturally, while the Police Chief can defend his position, some public officials are concerned that something is amiss.

“Those are dramatic numbers that definitely demand scrutiny and explanation,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who sits on the Public Safety Committee. “If crime was dramatically down, I wouldn’t have a problem with arrests going down. But if crime is going up, I want to see arrests going up.”

Bonin makes valid points, and the trend does deserve an explanation. Once again let us defer to the Chief of Police. Beck says that gauging officer productivity should not be based solely on arrests, the article reports. Modern policing strategies are now focused on increasing public safety without necessarily having to make arrests. What could be called a “rip and run” philosophy. Which means, making as many street level arrests as possible, regardless if it has a real impact on crime.

“The only thing we cared about was how many arrests we made. I don’t want them [police officers] to care about that,” Beck said. “I want them to care about how safe their community is and how healthy it is.”

At the Law Office of Ronald Brower, we view every criminal case as a challenge to the rights of individuals granted under the United States Constitution. We have the expertise, experience, and understanding of the law to secure the most favorable result possible for our clients. 

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