One former California police officer is speaking out on the state's spiraling drug crisis, arguing access to affordable housing is not really the issue causing so many residents to become homeless on the streets.
Rick Campbell served as a police officer in Oceanside, California, for more than 10 years. He recently penned an op-ed in Newsweek, outlining how the state's progressive crime policies are actually predicating the rampant drug use and homelessness plaguing the state.
"Lack of affordable housing is a problem, but it's not why we have such a huge increase in homeless camps and mentally ill people in California," he wrote. "I believe we have a massive drug addiction crisis, and no longer any tools to force anybody to change."
"We also have a huge mental health crisis and no tools to force them into treatment. Meth use and mental illness are peas in a pod. So many of the people I took in for mental health holds—a 5150—told me their mental health deteriorated when they started using the drug… There aren't words to describe the horrors I saw. And yet, in my opinion, civil rights advocates continue to stand in the way of reform," he continued.
Campbell told "America's Newsroom" Thursday that Prop 36, which was passed in 2000, offered a carrot and a stick to drug offenders by establishing drug courts that were often used as alternatives to prison time.
"If people were caught [with] simple possession for meth, heroin or cocaine, they'd be offered the option for treatment via drug court rather than going to prison," Campbell told co-host Bill Hemmer. "But they have this felony charge hanging over their head, so it was kind of like instead of all carrot begging people to stop using drugs and use treatment, there was also kind of a stick there which was necessary to motivate them."
But that all changed in 2014 when Californians voted to enact Prop 47, which he argued tied the hands of law enforcement officials who were trying to clean up the streets.
"All those felony charges for drugs were reduced to misdemeanors, and now the police out here can simply write people a ticket," Campbell said. "They aren't able to book them into jail when they have drugs in San Diego County."
Gov. Gavin Newsom, D., told Sean Hannity in an interview earlier this week that he takes responsibility for the state's spiraling homelessness, citing his $15 billion plan to get vagrants into secure housing.
"The state of California was not involved in the homeless issue. We got involved. We're holding cities and counties accountable," he said. "I'm suing cities when they're not producing housing. I want accountability. I take responsibility for this."
"This is personal to me, I love this state and I don't like what's happening with the encampments," he continued.
Campbell expressed support for Newsom's desire to reverse the trend, but argued efforts so far have been misplaced.
"We now have a multi-billion dollar deficit in our state, and yet they're going to continue to spend billions trying to provide carrots to get people off the street," Campbell said of the governor's pricey plan.
"Newsom did come up with the CARE court idea that they're trying to implement out here. I don't think that it's going to be fully successful, but we'll see," he continued. "I do think that he is trying, but so far, there have not been significant results."
California comprises 50% of the nation's unsheltered homeless population, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That amounts to 171,521 homeless residents.
Additionally, one-third of the entire homeless population across the country live in California.
Fox News' Yael Halon contributed to this report.