- Photo: ABC7 Screen Shot

Photo: ABC7 Screen Shot

Early this month a San Francisco police officer was dispatched to the city’s Chinatown neighborhood over a man making threats against Asians. She arrived to find a large and seemingly mentally ill and homeless man at the location. She got out of her car and approached the man while holding a less-lethal shotgun. Her apparent plan was to search the man for weapons, and he appeared to comply with her orders at first. Then he turned and attacked her. 

Much was made of the fact that civilians came to her aid. And a good thing, too. Because the guy was at least a hundred pounds heavier, a lot taller, and much meaner than the officer. He took her to ground and could have easily come away with her duty pistol and made good on his death threats against Asians, including the officer who happened to be Asian-American. 

But even more should have been made about the bigger concerns from this incident.

First, I’m not an officer nor a police tactics expert, but I have to say if having a solo officer carry a less-lethal shotgun into close contact with a ranting homeless guy is standard SFPD tactics then the agency needs to rethink its procedures.   

Now let’s address the bigger issue. It’s the one that nobody is talking about.

The suspect in this case—identified by authorities as Geraldo Contreras—has a long record of prior arrests, including aggravated assault, elder abuse, and assaults on officers in other parts of California. ABC7, which reported the local story, could not find records of a conviction.
I bet they couldn’t. Unless this guy committed murder of a child on live video, he’s not going to prison in California, not with district attorneys like Chesa Boudin of San Francisco and George Gascon of Los Angeles in office.

Here’s how bad it’s gotten in California. On May 19, a man was arrested in the Santa Clarita area of Los Angeles County, and charged with arson. Investigators believe the guy set five small fires in the same area. One of them grew up into a three-acre blaze.

The Santa Clarita area is up in the canyons north of Los Angeles. It’s a heavily populated area with homes up and down the scrub-covered hills. It’s fire country. So what this guy is accused of doing is the equivalent of attempted mass murder.

Gascon’s L.A. County District Attorney’s Office didn’t see it that way. They rejected the arson case, and the suspect—49-year-old Jeffrey Baker—was freed. A local paper, the Signal, reports that Baker was on a list of repeat offenders maintained by the LASD and had been “arrested three times in the past year.” Two days after he was released on the arson charges, Baker was arrested again, this time on suspicion of resisting an officer, battery, and exhibiting a deadly weapon, court records obtained by the Signal indicate.

This is not just a California problem. The coddling of repeat offenders is a nationwide scourge.

Back in the 1980s, people with strong law-and-order beliefs used to complain about “revolving door justice” where the same guys were always back out on the street committing mayhem. It’s not even a revolving door anymore. Today, the criminals are not in the system long enough to go through a revolving door. It’s more like apology justice where the progressive DAs, and the politicians, and the bail reformers, and all the other hug-a-thug activists, want cops to apologize to the criminals. Here’s a sample script, if you need one: “We’re sorry we arrested you for trying to kill that guy. Would you like a ride to the location of your next victim?”

That’s not funny. It’s especially not funny to the thousands of victims nationwide who are getting murdered, raped, beaten, and robbed by guys who should be in jail or better yet prison. And it shouldn’t be funny to you either because these are the same guys who are attacking and killing law enforcement officers.

As of June 1, the National Fraternal Order of Police reported that 128 officers had been shot this year, with 26 killed by gunfire. A lot of people want to attribute that to the anti-police sentiment that has been inflamed since the in-custody death of George Floyd. And there’s certainly some truth to that.

But I believe the marked increase in violence against the police and the public is a side effect of the anti-police movement. The movement wants the end of prosecution, the end of jails, the end of prisons, and politicians are obliging them by setting free violent criminals. It’s those repeat offenders who are killing your brothers and sisters, not the guy yelling “F the police” at some rally. Your safety and the safety of the people you serve depends on convincing the politicians and the public to let you and other criminal justice professionals get back to the business of arresting, charging, indicting, convicting, and incarcerating repeat offenders. Otherwise, society is teetering toward lawlessness.