California Gov. Newsom unveils $300 million plan to crack down on organized retail theft

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a more than $300 million proposal to help law enforcement fight organized criminal rings.

The Democratic governor said his plan will include $255 million for a grant program to give police more tools to arrest and investigate thieves who participate in such smash-and-grab crimes, increasingly brazen heists that have drawn widespread attention in recent months.

“We recognize this moment requires us to do more,” Newsom said during a news conference at the California Highway Patrol’s office in Dublin. “These organized efforts have created tremendous fear and anxiety to many Californians.”

Newsom said he will propose the spending as part of the budget he presents to the Legislature in January. California is expected to have a roughly $51 billion budget surplus for the next fiscal year, and Newsom and lawmakers could decide to spend a portion of the money early.

The governor’s plan calls for several other key components to beef up policing and prosecution efforts:

• $18 million, over three years, to create a full-time team within the California attorney general’s office dedicated to prosecuting organized retail theft

• $30 million in grants, over three years, to help county district attorneys prosecute theft

• $20 million to help establish a National Guard unit to combat drug crimes at the U.S.-Mexico border

• $20 million in grants to help small businesses harmed by retail theft

• $25 million to help local police departments sponsor gun buybacks, where people surrender firearms in exchange for money or gift cards

Newsom announced his proposal as he’s faced criticism over mass retail theft, including from Republicans who suggest the crimes are the result of Democratic-led reforms that reduced sentences for some low-level crimes [San Francisco Chronicle].



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