Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes recently shared law enforcement’s best solutions to improve public safety going into 2022.
The solutions come as the nation, and especially California, have seen spikes of violent crime that erode the quality of public life many Americans expect to see.
Barnes draws attention to the multitude of “smash and grab” robberies that have occurred over the holidays, but even during other times of year in California. According to Barnes, these crimes are a direct result of a decade-long effort to remove consequences for breaking the law. As a possible factor for the increased crime, he referenced Prop 47, which effectively allows criminals to steal up to $950 of merchandise from stores with little chance of being prosecuted.
As Sheriff, Barnes was able to keep a majority of these kinds of robberies out of Orange County with proactive controls, by making arrests of those who violate the law, and by staying engaged with the community.
“I encourage the public to urge state legislators to end the era of criminal empowerment and restore balance to our justice system,” Barnes said.
Another aspect of public safety Barnes is working on is reducing the drug epidemic.
In Orange County, fentanyl-related deaths increased 1067% from 37 in 2016 to 432 in 2020, and continued to grow in 2021. The drug is often hidden inside manufactured fake pills, causing many victims to be unaware they are ingesting it.
The sheriff’s department is also working to address individuals experiencing mental illness, drug addiction, and homelessness with an integrated services approach. To accomplish this, the Behavioral Health Bureau was created in late 2020. Deputies assigned to this bureau partner with healthcare professionals to work with those experiencing mental health issues properly, and they utilize the new Be Well OC Campus as a resource to help them.