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Hochul proposes retail theft task force, plans to address juvenile justice

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York is set to propose a new law enforcement task force targeting retail theft, headed by the State Police. This announcement comes two months after she vetoed a bill to create a task force to study the problem of organized retail theft. The proposed task force, expected to be highlighted in her State of the State address, aims to address the surge in retail crimes that has afflicted the state.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Hochul’s veto of the previous bill was attributed to its fiscal impact and potential redundancy with ongoing state agency work. However, the escalating issue of retail theft, which has seen a marked increase in aggressive incidents and financial losses, has prompted this change in approach. New York retailers reported approximately $4.4 billion in losses due to organized retail theft in 2022, indicating the severity of the issue.

In addition to the retail theft task force, Hochul is also expected to discuss plans to address challenges in the juvenile justice system, particularly in light of the Raise the Age statute. This law, which Hochul supported as Lieutenant Governor, aimed to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles rather than adults in the criminal justice system. However, there have been increasing concerns about its effectiveness, with a rise in violent offenses and gun possession among teenagers.