Sheriffs group rebuts White House claim it is helping combat surge in retail thefts

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The National Sheriffs Association fired back at White House Press Secretary Jen Psaski’s claim that the Biden administration is working with local law enforcement to help curb retail theft.

“Several of the national trade groups representing local law enforcement have formed their own working group to coordinate a better localized response to the latest crime trend,” the group said in a statement Wednesday. “This group aggressively sought federal law enforcement resources to assist in this effort. Thus far… we are unaware of any planned, orchestrated, or cohesive response by the federal government.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The statement comes after Psaki said during Tuesday’s press briefing that the White House was taking action to address the growing of problem of retail theft with federal support to local law enforcement, saying “DOJ, FBI, and federal law enforcement have been in contact where retail thefts have happened to offer assistance in investigations. And in Los Angeles where we’ve seen a rash of break-ins, the FBI is providing assistance to a multi-jurisdictional task force led by LAPD and LA Sheriff’s Department to go after the criminal groups who are behind many of these incidents.”

But the NSA argues that California law enforcement officials “tell us they have seen zero federal resources, and even the FBI says they haven’t done anything more. And Chicago is working this with the state alone. Zero new fed help.”

The comments come as many around the country have reported a surge in crime against retail stores, with National Retail Federation 2021 survey finding that “organized retail crime” has been on the rise. The survey also found that 65% of respondents believe there have been increasingly aggressive and violent plots to steal large quantities of retail to be resold later.

President Joe Biden. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Psaki said that the White House has taken note of the trend, saying that it is a “serious concern” of President Biden’s while citing that the administration has “provided financial assistance to get money to hire 50 more police officers through the COPS program that the president has championed in places like San Francisco and an additional 20 officers in Los Angeles.”

“Those dollars are droplets in the boiling ocean. 50 officers in LA and 20 in San Francisco: net that is less than 1/10th of 1% of their respective manpower needs,” the NSA said in response to Psaki’s comments.

The NSA went on to call Psaki “un-informed or ill-informed,” arguing that whatever the administration’s response has been to help local law enforcement, it “is not working.”

“The only response we know of so far is an Executive Order seeking to codify restricting the use of federal funds for local law enforcement,” the group said. “We are unaware of new funds; programs that put greater emphasis on prosecution, response or prevention.”

Left: White House press secretary Jen Psaki. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Right:  President Joe Biden. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Left: AP Photo/Evan Vucci Right: Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The group also challenged the White House to point specifically to where federal dollars are going.

“Can you share with us the numbers, location and the specific roles of these federal assets?” the group asked. “Who specifically at the DOJ is leading the response?”

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