WHITTIER – The Whittier City Council is looking into prosecuting local misdemeanor offenses in response to special directives issued by the Los Angeles County District Attorney that appear to contradict voter-approved ballot measures.
The City Council, at its meeting on Tuesday, is drafting a potential ballot measure to allow Whittier voters to decide if the city should prosecute misdemeanor cases and modify the city attorney’s powers and duties to include the prosecution of local misdemeanors.
The City Council cited numerous interactions with the office of L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón to support Whittier’s strategic plan goal of enhancing public safety and protecting the community, according to a release from the city.
The council adopted a resolution expressing a vote of no confidence in Gascón on April 24, 2021. The council also, in March 2022, directed staff to send a letter to Gascón’s office requesting that Whittier be allowed to prosecute its own misdemeanor violations. Long Beach, Pasadena and Torrance have made similar requests.
“We have a responsibility to our residents to ensure that the laws to protect and enhance the quality of life in Whittier are upheld and enforced,” Mayor Joe Vinatieri said in a statement. “While we will continue working with the District Attorney, we ultimately believe our community members directly impacted by these policies should have the opportunity to make the decision at the ballot box in November.”
The City Council will revisit the resolution to add the charter amendment to the statewide ballot at its next meeting on July 12.
The measure could be added to the ballot for the election in November if approved. It would not obligate the city to prosecute its own misdemeanors, but provide flexibility should the City Council wish to do so, according to the release.
For more information regarding the potential charter amendment and timeline, contact the City Clerk at 562-567-9850.
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