Military and Police

California Spends Taxpayer Funds to Reward Violent Gang Members Who ‘Promise’ to Stop Illegal Activity

“It would be affirmative action on steroids—a step beyond preferential treatment for minorities who want to succeed, but also for those who have demonstrated no desire to…”

California has many names. You’ve heard of them. There’s “The Golden State,” “The Land of Milk and Honey,” “The Bear State,” and “The Land of Sunshine and Opportunity.” Does “The Land of Fruits and Nuts” ring a bell?

For better or worse, the wacky western-most state is fully committed to its penchant for liberal lunacy and left-wing leanings. Even though California is reportedly in financial trouble, its citizens seem to be frequently subjected to testing like guinea pigs in costly new social experiments nonetheless. I don’t want to single out Cali for the questionable public policies that are taking shape across the country, but the west coast is definitely a great place to start when you’re looking into them.

The city of Sacramento announced this week that it will be allocating $1.5 million of its general fund to a program set to offer cash payouts to gang members provided they stay out of trouble. The program is dubbed Advance Peace—the city’s measure to combat a spike in gun and gang violence over the past few years. The initiative will select a total of 50 Latino and black gang members who have been identified as responsible for much of the violence taking place and offer to compensate them with up to one thousand dollars per month for “successfully meeting program goals.”

Quite honestly, I would support it if I thought it really worked—but there are several reasons why I don’t believe it will be as effective in lowering violent crime as simply relaxing gun laws for law-abiding citizens to serve as a deterrent for a relatively small number of armed psychos and killers preying on others.

Naturally, the move is stirring up a conversation. The most vocal liberals are absolutely enamored with the idea of it, all while simultaneously pointing and screaming “Racist!” at anyone who might disagree with them. On the other hand, conservatives looking for someone to blame for opening the progressive floodgates can’t point the finger at California’s capital city.

Sacramento isn’t the first in the state to put the program into action, after all. Advance Peace was founded in 2007 in the city of Richmond through its Office of Neighborhood Safety. Stockton and several other cities throughout the country are considering joining up as well. With that being said, what impact has the program had on Richmond?

Unfortunately, Advance Peace is making it more difficult to improve the clearance rate because of their policy of not sharing any information with police investigations into homicides.

While the trial city’s murder rate dropped from being consistently over 40 per year prior to 2012 to less than 20 from 2012-2014, murders have been on the rise there since. According to one National Council on Crime and Delinquency study to determine the program’s efficacy, the results are inconclusive. Three really good years out of ten does not make a smashing success—but to be fair, the homicide rate is down overall since the program’s inception. Advance Peace founder DeVone Boggan would say that the 2012-2014 dip in murders is in large part due to his organization’s work and that the recent rise in homicides is due to cutbacks in funding for his program.

Aside from homicides dipping down and climbing right back up, it should also be noted that Richmond PD’s homicide clearance rate is well below the national average at a paltry 33% despite a general consensus that police/community relations have gotten better there over the past several years. Unfortunately, Advance Peace is making it more difficult to improve the clearance rate because of their policy of not sharing any information with police investigations into homicides.

Boggan claims that the policy helps his program maintain its street credit and “trust from within the community,” but in my opinion, justice should take priority over anything else. If the community wants justice for its homicide victims, it’s going to have to call out murderers for the police and courts. People like Boggan who claim they are trying to help while pointing the finger at cops and saying, “Don’t worry, we’re not with those guys” seem hopelessly counter-productive.

Here’s another concern. They say money talks, but do people listen? Does financially incentivizing suspected violent gang members to not get into trouble make them cease criminal activity altogether or does it simply provide them with incentive to become more efficient at getting away with committing crimes?

I believe that most people will do the same amount and quality of work they have always done for an increased wage if the raise does not formally explicitly come with added responsibilities or increased workload. Some might even look for creative new ways to make it look like they’re working harder when they actually aren’t, even if they are expected to up their performance for the extra scratch.

In other words, a bump in pay alone is not a fix-all for bad behavior or a poor work ethic. The phenomenon, in my eyes, is not exclusive to criminals but is rather inherent in human nature. If my line of thinking is correct, then we’re not making violent people less dangerous by paying them. We might just be creating another system for them to benefit from if they can manage to manipulate it.

When my kid blows her lunch money on ice cream, I don’t respond by making it rain Franklins every Monday.

It is definitely worth mentioning that Richmond was one of only six cities identified as the most at-risk for financial fraud and corruption in the state of California, leading me to express another concern. Should we really be coming up with subsidized social programs in places considered prime for government mismanagement? When my kid blows her lunch money on ice cream, I don’t respond by making it rain Franklins every Monday. No, I give the kid less money and check with the lunch aide to see how the little girl is spending it next time I see her.

What other potential problems might there be? I hate to go here, but it’s impossible in today’s hyper politically correct climate not to do it. As a white male, I’m bored of my “white privilege” being not only used against me for any successes I may earn in life, but also as an excuse we create for minorities when they experience failure. If Advance Peace becomes widely used in minority populations across the country, it is a final nail in the coffin for the white privilege argument and the white-guilt brainwashing of future generations.

Affirmative action was introduced to “level the playing field” by creating quotas for minority admissions into universities and hiring of employees in both the government and private sector. In theory, it was designed to give minorities who were born with socio-economic inequities a chance to climb up and out of poverty provided they demonstrated the will to do so. What it’s done, however, is create inequities among other races.

An Asian student shouldn’t have to be 50 points smarter than a black or Hispanic student to be considered for the same seat in a college classroom.

For example, Asian-Americans, who are statistically the top-performing group on the SAT exam, get disproportionately turned away by colleges despite their high scores in order to make room for minorities of color who perform much lower. One Princeton study shows that being Asian equates to 50 points off of your SAT score when applying. An Asian student shouldn’t have to be 50 points smarter than a black or Hispanic student to be considered for the same seat in a college classroom.

In the name of inclusiveness, universities no longer admit the best and brightest of all Americans—they merely admit the best and brightest of each race. It’s an intellectually watered down student body thanks to affirmative action, and anyone who is not “a person of color” suffers.

According to racial equality activist Richard Lapchick, the NBA is composed of 74.4% black, 23.3% white, 1.8% Latino, and .2% Asian players. If the NBA adopted the same affirmative action practices designed to balance racial representation that universities, government, and corporations do, the NBA would also be committing suicide by watering down their product on the court.

The social experiment of affirmative action has reached a point of diminishing returns, and in 2017, we ought to be tapering off, not expanding it. If we are to streamline Advance Peace to minority-dominated urban areas across the country, we’re basically offering a universal basic income for the worst people in said communities so long as they don’t get caught committing the crimes they are known to commit.

It would be affirmative action on steroids—a step beyond preferential treatment for minorities who want to succeed, but also for those who have demonstrated no desire to.

T.B. Lefever

T.B. Lefever is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and active police officer in the Metro-Atlanta area. Throughout his career, Lefever has served as a SWAT Hostage Negotiator, a member of the Crime Suppression Unit, a School Resource Officer, and a Uniformed Patrol Officer. T.B. is also a certified Field Training Officer. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Rutgers University. Follow T.B. on Twitter @tblefever.

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