The vice president of the union representing almost 1,000 Los Angeles County prosecutors ripped District Attorney George Gascon on Monday for staying silent as a surging crime wave blankets the area, manifested in a rise in smash-and-grab robberies that are getting as violent as they are brazen.
Eric Siddell of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys said the county’s top prosecutor gives more deference to criminal suspects’ rights than those of their alleged victims while gangs of thieves prey on retail outlets, burglarizing them for tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise and very often in front of customers and staff.
Worse, when the thieves are caught they are back on the streets within a few hours thanks to zero-bail policies implemented by Gascon — as was the case last week when 14 suspects who were allegedly involved in 11 such robberies were quickly released and now remain free while they await court dates.
“If you look at the 14 people arrested, they could have been charged, there could have been bail amounts set, but none of that was done because the district attorney refuses to take a leadership position on this issue,” Siddall told Fox News. “He’s created an atmosphere devoid of accountability.”
In a statement to the network, Alex Bastian, who serves as a special adviser to Gascon, said that his office was currently working in tandem with law enforcement and that the DA would review the cases to see what criminal charges are warranted.
“Our Organized Crime and Cyber Crime Divisions are involved because often many of these cases can be interconnected and part of these crimes happens online,” Bastian said. “These brazen acts hurt all of us; retailers, employees and customers alike. We will hold those responsible accountable.”
Gascon has increasingly come under fire since he took office last year because of his left-wing policies that critics say are too lenient and are leading to more criminal activity. Opponents have launched a second recall on Monday after they failed to gather enough signatures for the first effort by the Oct. 26 deadline.
In particular, smash-and-grab robberies have increased significantly in the L.A. and San Francisco areas to include pharmacies, cannabis dispensaries, and retail stores.
“In San Francisco and its surrounding suburbs, armed caravans have roamed the streets at night looking for potential scores and have brazenly opened fire near police officers, authorities there have said,” Fox News reports.
The no-bail policies are most often cited by law enforcement as contributing to the uptick in criminal activity.
“There are individuals in communities that look at that as a lack of consequences, a lack of deterrence and open season in which to go and commit these types of crimes,” os Angeles police Chief Michel Moore told KNX Radio on Monday.
“The crisis during COVID, while well-intended, the impact it had on the criminal justice system was significant and severe that it’s developing another crisis in public safety,” he added. “We have an offender base that commits and are willing to commit serious and violent crimes and we need to make sure the criminal justice system acts as a deterrent.”
Others have blamed Proposition 47, a voter-approved measure that reclassified theft of merchandise valued at less than $950 as misdemeanors rather than felonies.
But Siddall pushed back on that.
“We didn’t have these flash mobs for many, many years,” Siddall told Fox News. “You really cannot blame Prop 47. When people are engaged in a conspiracy to commit larceny, that becomes a felony. You can’t say that the law is weak on these issues. You can’t say that the judiciary is weak on these issues.”