OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A former Oceanside, Calif., police officer is sounding the alarm over the state’s rising homeless problem, pushing back on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s claim that it’s due to a housing shortage in the state.
Rather, he said, the problem is mostly attributable to a skyrocketing drug abuse problem that has led to a spike in overdose deaths and homeless tent encampments to spring up on city sidewalks, storefronts, and parks in cities throughout the state, thanks to the adoption of left-wing ‘no-fault’ drug laws.
Rick Campbell, who served as a cop in Oceanside for 10 years, noted in a Newsweek column that the Democrat-controlled state’s far-left policies are causing rampant drug use and leading to an increase in homelessness.
“Lack of affordable housing is a problem, but it’s not why we have such a huge increase in homeless camps and mentally ill people in California,” he wrote. “I believe we have a massive drug addiction crisis, and no longer any tools to force anybody to change.”
“We also have a huge mental health crisis and no tools to force them into treatment. Meth use and mental illness are peas in a pod. So many of the people I took in for mental health holds—a 5150—told me their mental health deteriorated when they started using the drug… There aren’t words to describe the horrors I saw. And yet, in my opinion, civil rights advocates continue to stand in the way of reform,” he added.
In an interview with Fox News, he said “that Prop 36, which was passed in 2000, offered a carrot and a stick to drug offenders by establishing drug courts that were often used as alternatives to prison time,” the outlet reported.
“If people were caught [with] simple possession for meth, heroin or cocaine, they’d be offered the option for treatment via drug court rather than going to prison,” Campbell told co-host Bill Hemmer. “But they have this felony charge hanging over their head, so it was kind of like instead of all carrot begging people to stop using drugs and use treatment, there was also kind of a stick there which was necessary to motivate them.”
Everything changed in 2014, however, when voters approved Prop 47, which essentially tied law enforcement’s hands and took away the carrot-stick approach as well as officers’ abilities to clean up the streets.
“All those felony charges for drugs were reduced to misdemeanors, and now the police out here can simply write people a ticket,” Campbell said. “They aren’t able to book them into jail when they have drugs in San Diego County.”
During an interview with Sean Hannity earlier this week, Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledged his responsibility for the escalating homelessness crisis in the state. He highlighted his proposed $15 billion plan aimed at providing secure housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.
“The state of California was not involved in the homeless issue. We got involved. We’re holding cities and counties accountable,” he said. “I’m suing cities when they’re not producing housing. I want accountability. I take responsibility for this.”
“This is personal to me, I love this state, and I don’t like what’s happening with the encampments,” he continued.
Campbell said it was good of Newsom to step up, but he said efforts to address the problem have so far fallen flat.
“We now have a multi-billion dollar deficit in our state, and yet they’re going to continue to spend billions trying to provide carrots to get people off the street,” Campbell said of Newsom’s expensive plan.
“Newsom did come up with the CARE court idea that they’re trying to implement out here. I don’t think that it’s going to be fully successful, but we’ll see,” he continued. “I do think that he is trying, but so far, there have not been significant results.”
According to government figures, California is home to about 50 percent of the country’s homeless, or around 171,521 people.