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Government Relations & Public Policy

California and Virginia Leverage Competitive Grants to Help Combat ORC

November 9, 2023

The prevalence of organized retail crime (ORC) nationwide has pushed state lawmakers to come up with new ways to speed up funding to local law enforcement and prosecutors.

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) announced the state’s largest investment of $267 million in competitive grants to help law enforcement agencies and district attorneys combat retail theft.  

The sum of money is split between two programs: 1) the Organized Retail Theft Grant Program, designed to help fund law enforcement efforts, and 2) the Organized Retail Theft Vertical Prosecution Grant Program, meant to aid district attorneys prosecuting ORC cases. The vast majority of the funding has already been given to police departments across California to help staff retail theft units, investigate ORC cases and create new task forces with local businesses and community leaders. 

For example, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) was awarded $15.3 million to place more police officers on patrol and invest in essential equipment and personnel to help officers be more strategic in fighting retail crime. In Fresno, the grant funding has allowed the City’s Police Department to hire as many as 25 more officers to increase law enforcement’s presence in the community. 

Meanwhile, 13 district attorney offices in California will each receive up to $2.05 million through the Vertical Prosecution Grant Program to direct more sources to prosecuting organized retail thieves. Similar to the grants for police departments, this program will help DA offices increase staff capacity to take on retail crime, and in some cases, have dedicated personnel lead investigations on ORC.   

Virginia lawmakers also enacted their own version of a competitive grant program to combat ORC. In March, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) signed a comprehensive ORC package (VA HB 1885 & VA SB 1396) that included creating an Organized Retail Crime Fund for awarding grants to attorneys and law enforcement agencies to investigate, indict and prosecute violations of organized retail theft and other associated fraud and property crimes. The bill tasks the Attorney General with setting up guidelines and procedures for local police departments to apply for funding. 

In recognition of Virginia’s innovative approach, the Council of State Governments’ (CSG) is considering adding Senate Bill 1396 to its model legislation to recommend to other states dealing with ORC.

Legislation to combat ORC remains a critical priority for ICSC, which continues to advocate for passage of federal legislation in the form of the Combating Organized Crime Act of 2023 (HR 895/S 140). The legislation currently has nearly 100 cosponsors in the House and Senate. Click here to add your voice. 

For more information, contact Abby Jagoda at ajagoda@icsc.com.