With local petty crime arrests soaring past last year's average, Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham points to the state's public safety realignment plan.
"Property crime is up 10 percent, larceny is up 32 percent and car theft is up 102 percent," he said. "These numbers are just skyrocketing. We are getting hit hard."
Overall, Harpham said, arrests are up 20 percent from last year.
"We have arrested 536 more people this year than last year, and are averaging about 500 arrests a month," Harpham said. "Those numbers are a big increase."
But the "experts" told us realignment would reduce crime.
While the increases are mainly for misdemeanor offenses, Harpham said he suspects that a number of the crimes can be attributed to individuals arrested on felony charges who are being released from overcrowded county jails.
Harpham said he believes the problem has been slowly escalating.
Ever since the state's public safety realignment plan took effect in October, jail officials have been shouldering the responsibility of holding serious criminals for longer periods of time instead of sending them to state prison. As a result, a larger number of less dangerous offenders have been released from jail.At Tuesday's council meeting, Harpham used as an example an Arcata situation from earlier in the month where a woman was taken to jail after being arrested on drug possession charges, released due to overcrowding, then arrested again a few hours later on new drug charges. According to Harpham, jail staff told officers that the woman had to be released because of realignment and jail overcrowding.
"We are not putting people in jail, and when we are, they are not staying there," Harpham said. "There is just no deterrent not to commit crimes."