Malibu Request for Meeting with Baca on Detainee Release Policies Pending
• City Council Spearheads Change Citing Mitrice Richardson Case
BY ANNE SOBLE
The Malibu City Council is awaiting word from Sheriff Lee Baca about when he will be able to meet with some of its members about a policy recommendation that was unanimously approved on Sept. 26 regarding the protocol for release of detainees from local sheriff's stations.
In a letter dated Oct. 4 that was drafted by staff and signed by Mayor John Sibert, Baca was informed that "the City of Malibu strongly suggests that local stations should allow detainees to be released between sunset to sunrise only when proper transportation has been secured. Furthermore, the city recommends that all arrestees should be permitted to retain possession of their purse, wallet and/or cell phone, rather than leaving those valuables in their vehicles, which may or may not be readily available to them upon release."
In accordance with a second council directive, the letter states the representatives "would like to request a meeting with [Baca] and Captain Joseph Stephen [Lost Hills Sheriff's Station commander] to discuss how the city and the sheriff's department can work together to implement or alleviate our concerns."
Although the council primarily looked at the issue from a broad perspective—something that many of the change proponents also emphasized, one of the driving forces for the proposal was the community's widespread concern for the fate of Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old Los Angeles resident who was booked at Lost Hills on two field-citable misdemeanors two years ago, and released at minutes past midnight without her wallet, money or cell phone. Her skeletal remains were discovered in remote Malibu Canyon backcountry seven miles from the station eleven months later.
During the September meeting, Sibert emphasized the advisory nature of the council's action, stating, "We do not have the authority to tell them how to do their business." The LASD provides contract law enforcement basis for the city and, although the city has no direct power over the agency, it is a client with an annual bill of $6.5 million.
Baca's management of the sheriff's department is currently under fire for serious problems with the county jail system and rampant prisoner abuse.
Meeting with Malibu and implementing popular release policy changes might give him a much needed public relations boost at a time when he needs one.