(US MEDIA GROUP) – The issue of rising crime rates and flash mob robberies has sparked a heated debate in the state of California. Assemblyman James Gallagher, representing District 3, passionately declared, “Enough is enough…we have to make crime illegal again in California.” The statement came as a response to the alarming increase in businesses being targeted by criminals across the state.
In a significant development, Senate Bill 553 obtained a resounding 29-8 house vote in the California State Senate on May 31, 2023. The bill, introduced by State Senator Dave Cortese, aims to address workplace violence, particularly in the Bay Area, where recent incidents of workplace shootings have left the community in shock.
According to Senator Cortese, the legislation is designed to protect non-security workers from being confronted by shoplifters and requires retail employees to undergo training on how to respond to such situations. SB 553 also includes additional provisions to enhance workplace safety and prevent further assault or shooting incidents.
However, the bill has sparked controversy and received criticism from numerous small business owners, lawmakers, and law enforcement personnel. They argue that SB 553 will inadvertently encourage shoplifting and lead to an increase in crime rates. The legislation mandates that employers develop workplace violence prevention plans as part of their Cal/OSHA Injury Illness Prevention Plan, setting new standards that prohibit store employees from retaliating against thieves.
During a recent rally held at the state capitol, business owners, lawmakers, and members of law enforcement stood in unity, brandishing poster signs and voicing their concerns over the bill’s potential ramifications. They specifically called on the Assembly Appropriations Committee to reconsider the legislation.
Paramjit Khaira, owner of Sac Valley Truck Stop, expressed their apprehension, stating, “SB 533 allow[s] all [shoplifters] to come to the store and grab whatever they need.” Small business owners argue that the bill favors large retail chains, unfairly targeting the struggling entrepreneurs who are already burdened with the financial losses incurred through theft.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson condemned the state’s current public policy decisions, claiming that they have inadvertently decriminalized property crime and drug use. Pierson emphasized the need for Sacramento to hold criminals accountable for the harm inflicted upon innocent Californians.
Senator Cortese faced a backlash outside the capitol just two weeks ago when attempting to explain the rationale behind the bill. Many small business owners confronted him, highlighting how the legislation further burdens them as victims of crime. Already grappling with theft losses, these owners argue that hiring security guards to comply with the bill’s requirements imposes an additional financial strain they simply cannot afford.
As the contentious bill heads for a crucial hearing, concerned individuals are urged to engage with the members of the Appropriations Committee to express their views. The hearing is scheduled to take place today, Friday, September 1st, putting the spotlight on California’s ongoing battle against crime and the delicate balance between protecting workers and safeguarding business interests.