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Why didn't Governor Newsom's CHP detail stop that retail theft he witnessed at Target?

Why didn't governor's CHP detail stop retail theft he witnessed at Target?
Why didn't governor's CHP detail stop retail theft he witnessed at Target? 03:59

UPDATE: As we reported last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught on camera sharing his frustration with a group of local mayors after he said he witnessed a theft at Target and the clerk blamed "the governor" for the increase in retail theft. 

"I said, 'Why aren't you stopping?' She goes, 'Oh, the governor – I swear to God, true story, on my mom's grave – the governor lowered the threshold. There's no accountability,' " he told the mayors on Zoom.

Officers can't arrest someone for a misdemeanor in California unless they witness the crime firsthand. So even if the clerk had stopped the alleged thief and called the police, the shoplifter likely would have been cited and released. 

However, as several viewers pointed out, the Governor's California Highway Patrol (CHP) security detail presumably also witnessed the crime. They could have intervened and legally arrested the shoplifter.

Notably, the Governor put CHP in charge of the state's organized retail theft taskforce.  

Governor Newsom's office did not respond to questions about why his detail did not intervene. 

A CHP spokesperson issued the following statement:  

"The California Highway Patrol's (CHP) Governor's Protection Detail is responsible for the safety and security of the Governor and his family. The CHP does not release specific information related to personnel assignments, security tactics, or protection strategies."

Speaking of mayors…

Democratic mayors join fight to reform Prop. 47 - despite the governor's opposition

A growing number of Democratic mayors are now joining the fight to reform Prop. 47, despite Governor Newsom's opposition. Some of those mayors were on the, now infamous, Zoom call last week.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, and the Oakland chapter of the NAACP all announced their support on Thursday for a proposed ballot measure called The Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act. It is intended, in part, to increase theft penalties for repeat offenders and incentivize treatment for hard drug users by reforming portions of Prop 47. 

Two progressive Bay Area mayors are among a growing number of Democrats and progressive groups who are backing this ballot measure, which the Governor does not appear to support.

Prop. 47 is a 2014 voter-approved law that reduced punishments for drug possession and for thefts under $950, including for repeat offenders. As a result, people with multiple theft convictions, and those repeatedly found in possession of hard drugs, could no longer be charged with felonies.

For reasons we've previously reported, people who are charged with misdemeanors in California rarely serve jail time or face any significant penalties.

Enter the new ballot proposal. It's been billed as a Republican-led initiative but it's actually sponsored by a group of victims' advocates and public safety leaders, including the former head of the California Department of Corrections and prominent district attorneys.

Top donors for the proposal include Walmart and Target, and people have been lining up outside grocery stores to sign the petition to get it on the ballot.

If passed:

  • District attorneys could once again charge repeat offenders with a felony.
  • It would create a new "treatment-mandated felony" for hard drug users with multiple convictions, which would be dismissed once they complete treatment.
  • Judges could once again sentence drug traffickers to state prison instead of county jail.

Sources told CBS Sacramento that the governor is opposed to the proposed ballot measure and has actively discouraged retail industry groups from supporting it.

The governor's office wouldn't comment on that Thursday but did point us to his recent budget presentation where he publicly opposed reforming Prop. 47.

"Not to say everything about Prop. 47 is hunky-dory and perfect. We want to fix some of the ambiguities, but we can do it without reforming or going back to the voters themselves. That's what we proposed," Newsom said.

Anything that would reform Prop. 47 would have to go back to the voters on the ballot. Lawmakers have begun introducing individual pieces of legislation that, if passed by the legislature, would appear on the ballot and would make a series of smaller changes to the law.

The governor is pushing his own property crime package of legislation that is focused on certain types of thefts. He's also calling for legislation to allow officers to arrest someone for a misdemeanor, whether or not they witnessed a crime.

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