Gang conflicts and Proposition 47 are being blamed for a serious increase in what police are calling gang-related crime. In a recent article in the Orange County Register, Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas refers to the early release of some offenders under Proposition 47 as a cause of the recent increase in violent crime. Proposition 47—approved by voters last year—has reclassified some felonies into misdemeanors which has led to some dramatically reduced criminal sentences. While the Chief is absolutely justified in his concern about the recent increase in shootings, there is no definitive proof that Proposition 47 has had a direct impact on crime. However, there is no doubt that there is a gang problem in Santa Ana. According to the Register, there are 4,500 gang members in the city who belong to approximately 100 street gangs.
Budget cuts to the Department, understaffing and a variety of other reasons may be blamed for the increase in crime in the city over the last several years and the recent dramatic increase in violent crimes. But no matter how many officers are hired and even if there is a tremendous increase in funding for the police, the underlying causes of gang-related crime in Santa Ana will remain unless a concerted effort is made to deal with root causes: poverty, unemployment, lack of educational resources and other complex reasons why so many people are attracted to street gangs. Until those issues are confronted, all fixes will be temporary.