Union Pacific, one of the nation’s largest rail companies, says it may avoid working in Los Angeles County after a sharp rise in thefts, which She blames laxity in the prosecution of crimes. Containers and trains are closed, but they can be broken into.
Union Pacific said last month in a letter to the Los Angeles attorney general that it had seen a 160% increase year-over-year In robbery in Los Angeles County. The company claims that a December 2020 special directive from Attorney General George Gascon that changed how low-level crimes are prosecuted has contributed to the rise.
In its letter, Union Pacific said that in the last three months of the year it has arrested more than 100 “active criminals who vandalized our trains” in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. But Union Pacific, which has its own police department with jurisdiction over the 32,000 miles of trail it owns, said that even as it expands its security resources and cooperates more closely with local law enforcement, the problem won’t go away. She added that after the arrest of individuals, they are released within 24 hours.
Crime is linked to the increase in poverty that has increased during the pandemic. The county directive was intended to combat the social ills that come from misdemeanor convictions, such as difficulties with employment, housing, education, government benefits, and immigration.
“Studies show that the prosecution of crimes that drive the bulk of misdemeanour cases has minor, or even negative, long-term effects on public safety,” Gascon said when the directive was issued. (His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
“While we understand the well-meaning social justice goals of policy, we need our justice system to support efforts to partner with local law enforcement, hold these criminals to account, and most importantly, help protect our employees and the critical local and national rail network,” Guerrero said.
The American Railroad Association has expressed concern about the increase in crime.
“In coordination with local law and federal law enforcement partners where necessary, the industry is committed to pursuing all avenues necessary to address this criminal behavior,” spokesman Ted Greiner said in a statement.