• PSC Recommendation Rooted in OIR Concern •
When the City of Malibu Public Safety Commission decided to take a look at Lost Hills Sheriff's Station detainee release policies at its meeting last week, the station liaison provided copies of part of an Office of Independent Review report on a case involving those policies.
The OIR is the watchdog panel that is supposed to investigate citizen and inter-agency complaints about possible Los Angeles Sheriff's Department personnel misconduct. Most of the OIR cases lean toward deputy DUIs and the occasional entrant in a booty-shaking contest, but comprehensive public policy reviews also occur.
That is why commissioners also should have received another section of the report—two pages of OIR recommendations for dealing with sheriff's station detainee, or arrestee, release policies—later read to them by an audience member.
The public safety commissioners established a ground rule that they were not going to discuss specific cases at the meeting. But the 10 OIR recommendations are generic, as any implementation would have to apply to all LASD stations.
The recommendations include that: all calls by arrestees be made on recorded lines; cell phones should be kept with other arrestee possessions; access to telephone numbers in a phone should be available to an arrestee; cell phones should be returned upon release; all outside calls to a station regarding an arrestee should be directed to the station jailer; the arrestee should be informed of each of these callers; if release is set for between sunset and sunrise, personnel should offer in writing an option to remain in jail voluntarily until daylight or the arrival of transportation; there should be video surveillance equipment outside the station monitoring station property and the surrounding area; and footage from exterior surveillance equipment should be stored in digital format.
The date of the OIR report is July 9, 2010, but last week's meeting was the first time these recommendations were aired at a public meeting where Lost Hills personnel were present.
The PSC majority supports a policy change that permits detainees to retain possessions, such as cell phone, wallet, money, keys, or anything else needed to assure they can care for themselves if they cannot reach others for assistance, or public transportation is not available.
This proposed release policy change is gender neutral. Items might be placed on one's person, but if the detainee doesn't have pockets, items might be placed in a transparent plastic bag, or some other system could be devised.
Sheriff's deputies now have the discretion to instruct detainees to leave these critical items in their vehicles, which becomes problematic if the vehicles are impounded.
PSC panelists said that if this discretion is removed, it could result in increased emphasis on specific circumstances. After the PSC recommendation is formalized and given to the commander of the Lost Hills Station, he told the Malibu Surfside News that he will forward it to the Office of the Sheriff for high ranking review.
If that review leads to implementation, Malibu will have helped to ensure that no one will be released from any sheriff's station at any time of day or night who cannot reasonably provide for his or her own safety.