Downey City Council voted “no confidence” in Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón on Sept. 28, becoming the 31st city in Los Angeles County to condemn Gascón’s policies.
The “no confidence” resolution, passing with a 3–1 vote, was brought forward by Mayor Claudia Frometa, who emphasized that the Special Directives (SDs) on criminal prosecution reform, led by Gascón in 2020, had drastically increased crime in Downey over the past year.
“Statistics presented by the Downey Police Department show that since the implementation of the SDs, the overall rate in which the District Attorney’s Office rejects Downey criminal cases for prosecution has increased from 19.3% in 2020 to 40.5% in 2021 with the District Attorney’s office rejection the filing of narcotic violations at the rate of 90.7%,” Mayor Frometa wrote in the resolution.
“DA Gascon’s SDs are undermining the criminal justice system’s goal of protecting the general public and victim’s rights.”
According to the statistics released by the Downey Police Department in August, there were 86 narcotics offenses in 2021, and Gascón rejected 78 cases.
The rejection percentage of disorderly conduct offenses increased by about 20 percent. In addition, 35 cases of public drunkenness offenses were all declined by the District Attorney’s police directive.
The Public Safety Report presented by the Downey Police Department at the council meeting indicated that the SD “shall not be filed” case categories include trespass, resisting arrest, under the influence of drugs, minor in possession of alcohol, public intoxication, criminal threat, and more.
Councilman Mario Trujillo voted to oppose the “no confidence” resolution against Gascón, and Councilwoman Catherine Alvarez abstained.
At the council meeting, Trujillo said that he’ll continue to prioritize the victims but that “the DA does not represent victims.”
“We are tasked with representing everyone that comes into the criminal justice system. Yes. Mr. Gascón, the DA wants us to consider the backgrounds of defendants, which is something that we really were never trained to do. We don’t talk to defendants, we don’t meet defendants, we don’t represent defendants, but we are being asked to consider more about who they are and where they come from, to try to reach a more equitable system,” Trujillo said.
Gascón’s office didn’t provide comment by the time of publication.
Gascón previously said: “It is time to change course and implement a system of justice that will enhance our safety and humanity.
“Today we are confronting the lie that stripping entire communities of their liberties somehow made us safer—and we’re doing it with science, research, and data. For decades those who profit off incarceration have used their enormous political influence—cloaked in the false veil of safety—to scare the public and our elected officials into backing racist policies that created more victims, destroyed budgets, and shattered our moral compass. That lie and the harm it caused ends now.”
During the public comment period, Downey residents expressed their support for the vote of “no confidence” in Gascón. Ana Brown wrote an email to the council criticizing Gascón’s policies for “putting all of the citizens in LA County in grave danger.”
“We are seeing the effects they are already having with the increase in homicides and other crimes, in addition, George Gascon’s disregard for the law, the lack of support for crime victims is irresponsible and dangerous to our communities,” Brown wrote.
The neighborhood communities of Downey including Norwalk, Pico Rivera, La Mirada, Whittier, and Cerritos have all issued votes of “no confidence” in Gascón.
A grassroots effort to recall Gascón collected 200,000 signatures by September; however, the recall effort has since scrapped the petition and restarted with a more established backing.
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva also expressed support for the recall effort.