The policy was instituted by Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus looting, which began in March, her spokesman told.
However, the spokesman said that the policy has been in place since June. The policy also requires prosecutors to consider four other factors, including whether the looted business was open or closed at the time.
It was recognized this week after reports have been made that Dr. Sean Wright, the mayor of Antioch, California, fumed against the order.
"When I read the policy, it was disturbing," Mayor Sean Wright said. "I understand the difference between protesting and looting. Peaceful protesting is OK, looting is not.
For the district attorney to put out that kind of plan is irresponsible and where do you exactly draw the line on need because these are people's businesses that are being impacted and livelihoods that are being destroyed."
After being a judge in the county for 22 years, Becton was elected in 2017 to be the first woman and African American to be district attorney in Contra Costa County- located to the east and north of Oakland.
On Independence Day, she charged a local couple with a hate crime after they painted over a "Black Lives Matter" mural.
Besides examining need and if the institute was open or closed, the looting policy asks prosecutors to take to a factor how the accused entered the facility, the "nature/quantity/value of the goods targeted," and if another law could be substituted for looting.
"It's reckless for the district attorney's office to have this type of policy because it hurts the community, local business and business owners," Antioch Police Officers Association President Steve Aiello said. "It shows the district attorney's office is picking and choosing the types of crimes it will prosecute versus just following the laws on the books."
"At what point does our district attorney's office advocate for the victims? If it's not the district attorney's office, who then becomes the advocate and safety net for the victims and ensuring restitution is made?"
Prosecutor's office spokesman Scott Alonso was enraged when asked if Becton was "racially biased."
"No, there are no racial filing guidelines or standards for our Office," Alonso said. "The question is frankly shocking and I am not sure where that is coming from. I can't imagine any prosecutor in the country answering yes to that question."