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California Bill Allowing Warrantless Shoplifting Arrests Gaining Bipartisan Support Despite Criticism Against ‘Mass Incarceration’

California Bill Allowing Warrantless Shoplifting Arrests Gaining Bipartisan Support Despite Criticism Against ‘Mass Incarceration’

Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, listens during the opening session of the California Assembly in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 4, 2023. (José Luis Villegas/AP Photo)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

3/27/2024

Updated: 4/2/2024

As California businesses continue to be impacted by retail theft, a newly introduced bill with bipartisan support authored by a Democratic legislator is on the receiving end of broad criticism from some colleagues.
At issue is Assembly Bill 1990, introduced by Democrat Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, which would allow law enforcement to make arrests for shoplifting—a crime that is currently punished with a citation. No dollar amounts are mentioned in the text as a minimum to qualify for arrest.
One colleague took exception to the bill because it authorizes law enforcement to make warrantless arrests for shoplifting committed outside of the officer’s presence.
“Please say no to AB 1990,” Assemblymember Tina McKinnor posted March 24 on X, formerly known as Twitter. “[It is] bad for black and brown folks.”
She argued that existing laws are sufficient to address the problem if properly enforced.
“Bad public policy that will only increase mass incarceration is not a solution,” Ms. McKinnor said. “The laws on the books are effective if our law enforcement partners would enforce them.”
Assemblymember Tina McKinnor attends A New Way Of Life 2022 Gala at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Dec. 3, 2022. (Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Assemblymember Tina McKinnor attends A New Way Of Life 2022 Gala at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Dec. 3, 2022. (Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

The bill’s author said that arguing online is not how legislation should be crafted.
“[Assemblymember] McKinnor has not met with me to discuss AB 1990, the STOP Act, instead, she tweeted about it,” Ms. Carrillo told The Epoch Times by email on March 27. “I am always open to discussing serious policy matters with colleagues, but I don’t legislate via social media.”
She also disputed claims that the bill would be detrimental to people of color.
“AB 1990 has bipartisan support and addresses a growing statewide concern over organized retail theft, store closures, loss of jobs, and ensuring public safety,” Ms. Carrillo said. “The Legislation is committed to fairness, equity, and the protection of all individuals’ rights, regardless of race or background.”
One California Legislative Black Caucus member disagreed with fellow member Ms. McKinnor, requesting solutions instead of discord and saying that courage is needed from legislators to reconsider prior policy decisions.
“As a co-author, I do not apologize for being brave enough—while others are not—to take a stand for those I represent to uphold my commitment to make sure their livelihood and safety is top priority,” Assemblymember Mike Gipson posted March 24 on X in response to Ms. McKinnor’s comments. “I would simply ask my colleague—What do you offer besides throwing rocks?”
Crime is impacting Californians of all walks of life and causing jobs to disappear, he said.
“Communities of color are hurting,” Mr. Gipson said. “People are losing their jobs in the retail industry, and doing nothing is not an option.”
Assemblymember Mike Gipson speaks during AIDS Walk Los Angeles 2019 in Los Angeles on Oct. 20, 2019. (Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for AIDS Walk Los Angeles)

Assemblymember Mike Gipson speaks during AIDS Walk Los Angeles 2019 in Los Angeles on Oct. 20, 2019. (Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for AIDS Walk Los Angeles)

Ms. Carrillo said a change of policy is needed to counter the rising retail theft problem. She noted an 81 percent spike in shoplifting in Los Angeles between 2022 and 2023, with nearly 12,000 retail theft reports in the city last year, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“AB 1990 ... is an urgent call to action in response to the alarming escalation of organized retail theft that threatens the very fabric of our communities,” she said in a March 20 statement announcing the legislation. “Shoplifting adversely affects both small and large businesses, our state’s economy, and the security and well-being of our neighborhoods.”
Citing significant increases in organized retail theft across the state and in her Los Angeles area district—including more than 200 such cases filed by Los Angeles County district attorneys in 2023—she said coordination is needed at all levels of government to prevent more stores from closing and jobs being lost.
“It is our responsibility to confront a problem that has been increasingly worsening over time,” Ms. Carrillo said. “Organized groups targeting retail stores have plunged businesses and communities into chaos, creating an environment of disorder for some and instilling fear in consumers, employers, and employees who are uncertain about their safety at work.”
One Democratic colleague and co-author of the bill, Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, said the measure is needed to give law enforcement the authority to address retail theft crimes.
“California businesses need stronger support from leaders in Sacramento to address the dangerous levels of retail theft seen over recent years,” he said in Ms. Carrillo’s statement. “Many shops have been left to their own devices to protect their stores and keep customers safe, and the current method of enforcement requires peace officers to enforce against theft with one hand tied behind their back.”
Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua introduces his bill at the Capitol in Sacramento on Feb. 14, 2024. (Travis Gillmore/The Epoch Times)

Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua introduces his bill at the Capitol in Sacramento on Feb. 14, 2024. (Travis Gillmore/The Epoch Times)

Republican co-author Assemblymember Juan Alanis said the issue is complex and long in the making.
“The reality is public safety issues plaguing California did not appear overnight,” he told The Epoch Times by email on March 27. “While not a ‘fix all’ for the issue, AB 1990 is a positive step forward in addressing the overall retail theft crisis in California.”
Mr. Alanis said the matter requires a bipartisan effort to address the problem. He noted that he also supports an initiative to amend Proposition 47—passed by voters in 2014 to reduce prison populations—which lowered the classification for certain crimes,  including theft of property under $950, from felony to misdemeanor.
“I continue to support making significant changes to Prop. 47, but I made a promise when I was elected to work across the aisle on real solutions wherever they can be found,” Mr. Alanis said. “I am proud to support the bill and will be encouraging all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same.”
As a retired sergeant from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department with more than 27 years of law enforcement experience, he said the bill will prove beneficial if passed.
California Assemblymember Juan Alanis, R-Modesto, speaks at a news conference where California Assemblymembers, law enforcement officials, and local representatives propose to put stricter fentanyl enforcement on the upcoming 2024 ballot, in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento on June 6, 2023. (Courtesy of Assembly Republican Caucus)

California Assemblymember Juan Alanis, R-Modesto, speaks at a news conference where California Assemblymembers, law enforcement officials, and local representatives propose to put stricter fentanyl enforcement on the upcoming 2024 ballot, in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento on June 6, 2023. (Courtesy of Assembly Republican Caucus)

“I can say with certainty as a retired law enforcement officer that AB 1990 will help return deterrence to retail theft crimes across California,” Mr. Alanis said. “It gives law enforcement more tools to hold criminals accountable and better protect our retail spaces, which are crying out for relief.”
AB 1990 is currently awaiting a hearing from the Assembly Public Safety Committee, with a date yet to be determined.
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Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

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Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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