Ron Freitas has a simple plan to make the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office more effective in pursuing justice and securing law and order.
The DA challenger in the June 7 election wants to let the assistant district attorneys do their jobs.
“I’d get out of the way of the assistant DAs and let them do what they were trained to do,” Freitas said.
Freitas is referencing incumbent DA Tori Verber Salazar’s policy changes in the last several years of how her office handles lifestyle crimes and deals with low level felonies to reflect restorative justice goals.
Verber Salazar in 2020 resigned from the California District Attorney Association because of her belief the organization had been opposing criminal justice reform.
She then aligned herself with two high-profile DAs at the forefront of the restorative justice movement — Los Angeles’ George Gascon and San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin. Both district attorneys have instructed their assistant DAs not to prosecute a multitude of crimes, not to appear at parole hearings contesting the release of convicted murderers, not to pursue sentencing enhancements such as those that add years to time served by documented gang members, and have been accused by victim rights groups of ignoring the victims of crime.
Freitas, a 34-year veteran of the DA’s office whose experience runs the gamut from heading up the office’s homicide prosecutions to finding ways to try and keep juveniles from becoming repeat offenders, said Verber Salazar has created a climate where criminals see the DA’s office has created a “get out of jail free card” for them in San Joaquin County.
“That is not what she told people she would do when she was elected,” Freitas said.
Verber Salazar — now in her 8th year as the county’s head prosecutor — did not advocate shifting her office to restorative justice mode in her original campaign in 2014 and her subsequent re-election in 2018.
Her alignment with what Freitas references as “San Francisco style justice” occurred just two years ago.
Freitas intends to emphasizeenforcement of the law, early intervention, and justice for victims.
It’s a three-pronged approach that he stresses doesn’t abandon efforts to try and get at the root of criminal behavior and nip it in the proverbial bud.
That’s because he vows to re-enforce proven methods for producing results rooted in intervening with youth at an early age through education and offering alternatives to gangs. It also involves addressing “broken window crimes” — that if left unanswered by law enforcement, often set the stage for blight to create a breeding ground for more serious crimes.
During his time working cases involving juvenile criminals, Freitas was acutely aware that those he was dealing with almost never ended up completing high school.
It is what prompted him to serve on the Lodi Unified School District board since 2012.
Freitas secures endorsement of 15
law enforcement agency groups
Freitas has been endorsed by 15 local, regional and state law enforcement groups. The list includes police officer associations in Manteca, Ripon, Lodi and Stockton as well as the San Joaquin County Deputy Sheriffs Association the SJC Probation Officers Association, and the SJC Correctional Officers Association
The majority of the assistant district attorneys that participated in a poll indirectly endorsed Freitas when they cast votes of no-confidence in the current DA.
Freitas has also garnered the support of firefighter associations including Manteca, Lathrop-Manteca, Lodi, Tracy, and Stockton.
A graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review. He has served the citizens of San Joaquin County as a Deputy District Attorney, Supervising Deputy District Attorney of the Gang Violence Suppression Unit, Chief Deputy District Attorney of the Homicide and Gang Divisions, and Assistant District Attorney.
Throughout his career, he tried numerous gang-related murders and violent felonies. In San Joaquin County, he was the first to have DNA evidence admitted with a Kelly-Frye hearing, and tried the first two dual-jury trials. He was also the first to use a gang special circumstance to obtain a death sentence. He supervised the first gang-related wire surveillance operation. He is a co-founder of the San Joaquin County Gang Violence Prosecution Task Force, and the founder of the San Joaquin County Homicide Task Force, San Joaquin County Evidence Task Force, and the San Joaquin County Grand Jury Task Force.
As the Homicide Division Chief, he assisted in the investigation, charged and supervised the prosecution of over 150 murders, including the kidnap, rape and murder of eight year-old Sandra Cantu (2009), the Dalene Carlson kidnap and murder (2011), and the Bank of the West bank robbery, felony-murders (2014). In 2012, he successfully argued to the California Supreme Court that autopsy reports are not testimonial in People v. Dungo (2012) 55 Cal.4th 608.