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Lancaster Considers Imposing Fines For Certain Crimes In Wake Of Prop. 47

LANCASTER ( — The city of Lancaster is considering an ordinance that would impose administrative fines for certain offenses in an effort to curb crime amid Proposition 47.

The Lancaster City Council voted, 4-0, Tuesday night in favor of passing the law they say will protect citizens and businesses.

The move comes in response to Proposition 47 passed by Californians last November, which reduces certain property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

Vice Mayor Marvin Crist says Lancaster is the first city in the state to do so but may not be the last.

"Well, Proposition 47 put a burden on the local community as far as the limitations so what we are trying to do is protect our citizens from the crime that will be happening because of Proposition 47," Crist said.

Crist continued: "You could walk into a Walmart, put three 33-inch TVs in, and walk out and nothing be done. The sheriff's department is helpless under Proposition 47. We want to put some teeth into it."

The "teeth" the council voted to authorize empower deputies in Lancaster to issue administrative citations for low-level shoplifting, forgery, theft, vandalism, receiving stolen property, illegal dumping or disturbing the peace, which were reduced to misdemeanors under Prop. 47 when the dollar amount is under $950.

The citations would invoke a fine of $500 for the first offense. Thereafter, fines for second and later offenses would be $1,000.

But critics like Michelle Egberts of AV-East Kern Second Chance, which helps former offenders integrate back into society, says Lancaster is tampering with a statewide proposition passed by voters.

"We will seek legal avenues towards suing the city, if adopted," Egberts said. "Prop. 47 was not written for the cities to adopt ordinances like this to have administrative fines be given out."

Meanwhile, Lancaster's public safety director says he believes the administrative fines are acceptable under Prop. 47 and compliment it.

The Council plans to take a second vote on the ordinance next month; however, the outcome isn't expected to change, according to KCAL9's Dave Bryan.

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