After losing a veteran officer to a felon who was released early under a state program, a police chief excoriated California voters, telling them that “we need to wake up” to the danger caused by liberal government policies.
According to KNBC-TV, Officer Keith Boyer, a 25-year veteran of the Whittier, California, police department, was killed in a shootout Monday morning after responding to a traffic accident.
The Whittier Daily News reported that suspect Michael Christopher Mejia, 26, had crashed a car he had stolen hours earlier. At a news conference, police said that Meija had pulled out a gun and shot Boyer and another officer when the police were patting him down for weapons.
Meija’s arrest sparked controversy because he had been released under a California program that turned many criminals over to county officials for supervision. Assembly Bill 109, signed into law by Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011, put into effect a “realignment” in which nonviolent criminals were either moved from state to county jails or removed from state parole and supervised under the auspices of county officials.
The move was designed to ease overcrowding in California’s prisons, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was so bad it constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
Meija had been released in 2016 following a sentence for grand theft auto. During his time under the supervision of Los Angeles County, Meija had been arrested no fewer than five times in seven months on probation violations, yet he had not been sent back to jail.
Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper said that this was unacceptable.
“What I want to say to the community of Whittier, community surrounding Whittier and the state is, we need to wake up. Enough is enough,” Piper said, according to KTLA in Los Angeles. “Passing these propositions, you’re creating these laws that are raising crime.
“It’s not good for our communities and it is not good for our officers,” he concluded. “What you have today is an example of that.”
Piper was referring to not only AB 109, but voter-approved Propositions 47 and 57. Proposition 47 would keep non-violent offenders out of state prison and Proposition 57 would accelerate the release of violent criminals. Neither of these was involved in Meija’s case, although both have concerned law enforcement across the Golden State.
Gov. Brown campaigned for Prop 57, according to KABC-TV, arguing that it would help criminals “turn their lives around.” However, the measure has come under increasing scrutiny after the Whittier shooting and the 2016 murder of Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen by another criminal who had been released on parole.
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