BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A spike in crime around the community has many people wondering if it’s all connected to AB 109, the California law, which in part releases low-level inmates from prison.
Leaders with the City of Bakersfield are now looking at ways to deal with the growing problem.
City Council members say crime around Bakersfield is up 16 percent and something needs to happen immediately to not only reduce that number, but prevent future problems down the road.
City Council member Russell Johnson of Bakersfield's Ward 7 is noticing a trend.
"We get calls from our constituents, people call me on a Saturday morning crying because the crime in their neighborhood. People I know that their cars were broken into and his engagement ring was stolen. One of our Kern High School district board members had a truck stolen from his house, you got all these little different things that are happening on occasions," he said.
Leaders are putting the blame on AB 109 and say the increase in crime is a result of more criminals on the street.
"This wasn't a city-created problem, this was a state-created problem. We just have to deal with what we can control. We can't deal with the jail space issue that the county and state have to deal with. All we can do is keep our residents assure that they are going to be safe when they pick up the phones, someone is going to show up and that we got guys out there patrolling the neighborhoods," said Johnson.
The Bakersfield City Council is looking at several options to combat crime.
One plan increases patrol and officers on the street using money already in the budget.
The second is seeing what they can accomplish with more money and the last is a more aggressive strategy that includes 46 new bpd officers.
"When you look at the different options that we have, even the most minimal option, adding ten officers which is what staff is going to propose for this year's budget, that's even in jeopardy because we have all these predatory governmental agencies seeking to take local dollars from the City of Bakersfield," he said.
Johnson says the on-going problem with the state and county has to be resolved in order for the city to keep streets safe.