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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday proposed spending more than $300 million to help law enforcement and small businesses address a recent rash of high-profile smash and grab thefts.
Under the three-year plan, the money would finance a crackdown on organized crime rings, which are believed to be carrying out the crimes.
“The issue of crime and violence is top of mind all throughout not only the state of California but across the United States, highlighted recently by some high-profile retail theft operations,” Newsom said, announcing the money would be part of his proposed state budget in January.
“These organized retail mobs … (have) a profound impact on our feelings of safety here in this state, this region and as I note, this country,” he said.
WARRANT ISSUED FOR CALIFORNIA NORDSTROM SMASH-AND-GRAB SUSPECT RECENTLY RELEASED ON BAIL
Local law enforcement agencies would receive $255 million over the next three years to place more officers in stores to deter theft and another $30 million would go to district attorneys in the prosecutions of retail and auto robberies.
Another $18 million would go to create a new “organized theft special unit” under the state attorney general, with investigators and prosecutors dedicated to pursuing organized crime ringleaders; $20 million would go to small businesses victimized by smash and grab thefts and the California National Guard would receive $20 million to combat illegal drug smuggling.
An additional $25 million would fund the “largest gun buyback program in America,” he said, reiterating his proposed law to allow private citizens to sue people who sell illegal assault-style weapons and untraceable ghost guns. The proposed law is modeled after the Texas abortion law that allows private citizens to sue those who help a woman get an abortion.
State Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk in a statement after Newsom’s speech claimed the “Democrats’ relentless push for their ‘criminals first’ agenda has turned this once-majestic state into a sanctuary for criminals,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Democrats’ relentless push for their ‘criminals first’ agenda has turned this once-majestic state into a sanctuary for criminals.”
Newsom, who has been an advocate for alternatives to prison such as rehabilitation, claimed the proposal wasn’t in conflict with that.
“We’re not walking back on our commitment in the state to advance comprehensive reforms,” he said. “We’re not walking back in this state to right the wrongs of the past. We’re not walking back as it relates to the rules and regulations established by the voters and others that I believe are sound and right.”
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The money wouldn’t be immediately available because Newsom’s budget won’t be approved by state lawmakers until June, according to the Times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.