Local residents may well ask themselves what is going on with the recent spurt in crime in Patterson. A finger-pointing game often ensues, with local residents blaming police, city leaders or the town’s newcomers for the city’s recent woes.
But folks should keep in mind that law enforcement agencies throughout the state have experienced similar problems in recent months, and relatively few towns in California are the “way they used to be.”
One common factor in the surge in crime often cited by police throughout the state is Assembly Bill 109, the law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2010 that allows some convicts — excluding violent criminals and sex offenders — to serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prisons.
The result is that thousands of inmates considered “nonviolent” offenders have been sent to local jails, which released many of them on probation starting in October.
The law is just another example of state leaders dumping their budget problems on local governments, which are already stressed with their own economic worries.
It’s tragically humorous to see the state Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation website tout AB109 as “historic legislation that will enable California to close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons.” It calls the law “the cornerstone of California’s solution for reducing the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons ... .”
That “cornerstone” is creating havoc on our city streets.
Instead of pointing fingers at local leaders and law enforcement, it’s time to get at the root of the problem. Local residents should call on their state representatives to provide some remedy for this foolhardy legislation.
In the meantime, let’s get serious about taking personal responsibility to prevent some of these crimes by installing burglar alarms and communicating with police and neighbors about crimes occurring in local neighborhoods.
A forum on public safety, suggested by City Councilman Dominic Farinha at this week’s council meeting, is also a good idea. Crime is on a lot of people’s minds these days, and such a forum would likely be well attended, if it were properly publicized.
Early intervention is necessary as well. Churches, schools and other youth programs, such as the Patterson Teen Center, must continue the good work of reaching out to our youth to help prevent at-risk kids from slipping through the cracks.
While there are no fail-safe measures, this community must work as one to tackle criminal activity instead of tearing itself apart. We’re all in this together.