NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBakersfield

Actions

BPD: Nearly half of downtown crime is at the hands of less than a dozen

"There had been a time when those 11 people would have probably been in prison with that much repeat theft."
Posted at 8:06 PM, Apr 23, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — When it comes to downtown crime like theft, vandalism, and trespassing, Bakersfield Police say a specific group of 11 people is taking up the majority of their time tracking and enforcing these incidents.

  • Bakersfield Police say a specific group of 11 people have been arrested over 100 times cumulatively since November for smashing windows and burglaries in the downtown area.
  • District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said these problems are the unintended consequences of Proposition 47 — which passed in 2014 and reclassified some low-level non-violent felonies to misdemeanors.

When it comes to downtown crime like theft, vandalism, and trespassing, Bakersfield Police say a specific group of 11 people is taking up the majority of their time tracking and enforcing these incidents.

“We’re identifying the top people that create the most calls for service and the most interaction with our law enforcement,” said Lieutenant Nicole Anderberg.

Bakersfield Neighborhood News Reporter Veronica Morley interviewing Lieutenant Nicole Anderberg of BPD
Bakersfield Neighborhood News Reporter Veronica Morley interviewing Lieutenant Nicole Anderberg of BPD

Anderberg has just taken over the Bakersfield Police Impact Unit — a team working beside Flood Ministries and Kern Behavioral responding to homeless encampments, drug overdoses, as well as non-violent crimes.

“I’ve seen a lot of our officers become very invested in what they’re doing," Anderberg said. "I think they’re very dedicated to this cause, they know it's very important and they know the community really needs them.”

For her team, however, the department reported that a group of just 11 individuals has been taking up around half their time. These 11 have been arrested over 100 times cumulatively since November for smashing windows and burglaries in the downtown area.

These repeat offenders, according to officials, are mostly transient and suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues.

“The lack of accountability currently in the criminal justice in the state of California is creating big challenges for us," said City Manager Christian Clegg.

Clegg said while BPD’s impact team is working to respond to calls, they’re often responding to the same individuals they’ve previously arrested, costing the department resources.

“We have enough police officers to make all the arrests, but there aren’t high enough penalties under state policy for folks to really be held accountable,” Clegg said,

Anderberg said another problem they see with low-level offenders being released frequently is the hesitation from business or property owners to report issues.

“In order to make an arrest on a trespass we have to have a victim," she said. "Having that information is very valuable when you're making decisions about what type of resources you're going to need, where you’re going to send your officers for patrol.”

District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said these problems are the unintended consequences of Proposition 47 — which passed in 2014 and reclassified some low-level non-violent felonies to misdemeanors.

“There had been a time when those 11 people would have probably been in prison with that much repeat theft,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer joined a coalition of district attorneys across the state to amend Prop 47 by getting the “Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act” added to the General Election ballot. If passed, it would increase penalties for repeat thieves, as well as allow mandated treatment and prosecution for repeat hard drug convictions.

In order to get the proposition added to the ballot — the coalition needed more than 546,000 signatures. The group got over 900,000.

“Perhaps those 11 people wouldn’t have committed those crimes to begin with had they known they were going to be held accountable," Zimmer said.

Clegg proposed creating a dedicated case management team to focus on those high-frequency individuals.

Anderberg said she hopes if the prop passes it encourages more of the community to report incidents, which will ultimately help them determine where they’re needed most.

“Ultimately that’s going to be up to those individuals as to whether the level of accountability will change their behavior.”

Right now the Secretary of State is verifying the signatures for the proposition. If the signatures are accepted, voters will see the proposition on the November ballot.


Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: