Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Humboldt County] Grand jury: Jail needs to let inmates know if they can get a ride


Press release from the Humboldt County Grand Jury:
The 2014-2015 Humboldt County Grand Jury has issued a report entitled:
Transportation of Indigent Detainees in Accordance with California Penal Code Section 686.5 states: “In any case in which a person is arrested and released without trial or in which a person is arrested, tried, and acquitted, if such person is indigent and is released or acquitted at a place to which he has been transported by the arresting agency and which is more than 25 airline miles from the place of his arrest, the arresting agency shall, at his request, return or provide for return of such person to the place of his arrest."
The Grand Jury discovered that there are people arrested in the outlying areas of Humboldt County, brought to The Humboldt County Correctional Facility who qualify for California Penal Code Section 686.5 mandated travel assistance, who are not being informed they have the legal right to request such assistance. The Grand Jury also discovered that the refusal to inform those that qualify for that travel assistance, is the official practice of the Humboldt County Sheriff.
The Humboldt County Grand Jury recommends that Humboldt County Correctional Facility Officers, as part of the release process, inform those people, who qualify under California Penal Code 686.5, that they are eligible for transportation assistance back to the place of their arrest and that they have the legal right to ask for such assistance.
Should you decide to publicly comment upon the report of the grand jury, it would be appreciated if you would include within your comment the fact that the full report may be viewed by the public on the Humboldt County Grand Jury website: www.humboldtgov.org/510/Grand-Jury.
The report: Transportation of Indigent Detainees in Accordance with California Penal Code Section 686.5
By law, the Humboldt County Grand Jury is required, annually, to visit and report on the conditions of all correctional facilities within the confines of Humboldt County. While fulfilling its mandated investigations of the Humboldt County Correctional facility the Grand Jury became aware of possible violations of California Penal Code Section 686.5.
The Grand Jury discovered that there are people arrested in the outlying areas of Humboldt County, brought to The Humboldt County Correctional Facility who qualify for California Penal Code Section 686.5 mandated travel assistance, who are not being informed they have the legal right to request such assistance. The Grand Jury also discovered that the refusal to inform, those that qualify for that travel assistance, is the official practice of the Humboldt County Sheriff.
The Humboldt County Grand Jury recommends that Humboldt County Correctional Facility Officers, as part of the release process, inform those people, who qualify under California Penal Code 686.5, that they are eligible for transportation assistance back to the place of their arrest and that they have the legal right to ask for such assistance.
The Humboldt County Sheriffs Department serves a culturally diverse and geographically expansive county. The Humboldt County Correctional Facility in Eureka, California serves as the county’s only facility for the detention and incarceration of individuals accused or convicted of crimes. Recent California State mandates (A.B. 109 and Prop. 47) have only made that responsibility more difficult. The Humboldt County Correctional Facility also serves as the county’s temporary holding facility for the “drunk and disorderly”, with some detainees being transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for that purpose from as far away as Garberville and Willow Creek.
Members of the Grand Jury familiarized themselves with Penal Code Section 686.5.
Members of the Grand Jury reviewed the 2013-2014 Grand Jury report and the Sheriff’s response to that report.
Members of the Grand Jury met with Humboldt County Correctional Facility officers to discuss policies currently in place to inform those that qualify that they could ask for transportation assistance back to the site of their arrest.
Members of the Grand Jury met with the Sheriff to review existing transportation assistance policy and whether the Humboldt County Correctional Facility was informing those, that qualified, that they had the right to request said assistance.
Members of the Grand Jury engaged in the aforementioned activities to ascertain the number of inmates that are arrested more than “25 airline” miles from the Humboldt County Correctional Facility and then transported to that facility. The Grand Jury wanted to know how many inmates qualified for transportation assistance, what information is provided to those inmates, upon their release about their legal rights under California Penal Code 686.5 by Humboldt County Correctional Officers. The Grand Jury also wanted to know what the policies of the current Sheriff of Humboldt County were, regarding the communication of that information, to the inmates upon their release.
California Penal Code Section 686.5 states: “In any case in which a person is arrested and released without trial or in which a person is arrested, tried, and acquitted, if such person is indigent and is released or acquitted at a place to which he has been transported by the arresting agency and which is more than 25 airline miles from the place of his arrest, the arresting agency shall, at his request, return or provide for return of such person to the place of Humboldt County Correctional Facility Officers do not, as of the date of this report, inform those that qualify that they have the legal right to request transportation assistance. The Humboldt County Sheriff further attests that the Humboldt County Correctional Facility will not inform those that qualify for that assistance since, in his opinion, Correctional Officers are not legally mandated to do so. The Grand Jury found no evidence of any existing policy regarding how to transport those detainees that were legally qualified for transportation assistance, furthermore the Grand Jury found no evidence of any qualified detainees asking for transportation assistance. The Grand Jury cannot accurately conclude how many people qualify under the guidelines of California Penal Code Section 686.5 for transportation assistance due to a number of factors. The data provided by the Sheriff and Humboldt County Correctional Officers are inconsistent as to the number of qualified individuals transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility from Garberville and the Willow Creek area. The actual determination of who, in fact, qualifies under California Penal Code Section 686.5 is currently under advisement. There may be disagreement about the numbers, but the fact that there are people who qualify and that they are not being told that they qualify is not open for disagreement.
The Grand Jury is appreciative of the apparent difficulties in the implementation of any transportation program that would adequately address California Penal Code Section 686.5.
The Grand Jury does however disagree with the current policy of not informing those that qualify under California Penal Code Section 686.5. Our own findings would conclude that the Sheriff’s policies and the Humboldt County Correctional Officers actions are evading their responsibilities to the qualified inmates and that it might not technically be considered “breaking the law”, but that a “normal person” would conclude that the Sheriff was not acting in good faith by evading the issue and not informing those who qualify of their legal rights.
F1.  There are people arrested in the outlying areas of Humboldt County, brought to The Humboldt County Correctional Facility who qualify for California Penal Code Section 686.5 mandated travel assistance, who are not being informed they have the legal right to request such assistance.
F2.  The refusal to inform those that qualify under California Penal Code Section 686.5, that they have the legal right to ask for travel assistance is currently the official policy of the Humboldt County Correctional Facility under the direction of the Humboldt County Sheriff.
R1.  The Humboldt County Grand Jury recommends that Humboldt County Correctional Facility Officers, as part of the release process, inform those people, who qualify under California Penal Code 686.5, that they are eligible for transportation assistance back to the place of their arrest and that they have the legal right to ask for such assistance. (F1, F2)
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Pursuant to Penal Code section 933.05, the grand jury requests responses as follows:
From the following individual: The Humboldt County Sheriff is to respond to recommendation 1.
March 19, 2015
Eureka Times-Standard

[San Luis Obispo] County grand jury calls for fire emergency in Cambria


CCSD directors will consider following the recommendation at their next meeting


Cambria services district directors soon will consider declaring a state of fire-risk emergency in their community, an action recommended by a San Luis Obispo County grand jury report issued Tuesday, March 17. 
Jerry Gruber, general manager of the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD), added the item to the Board of Directors’ March 26 meeting agenda. The meeting starts at 12:30 p.m. at Cambria’s Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.
The North Coast’s forest of native Monterey pines is under extreme duress — most of the trees are at the end of their expected life span, beset by illness, parasites, bugs, overcrowding by other trees and development, and, especially, drought.
Recent estimates of forest mortality range from 40 percent throughout the stand to 90 percent in some areas. That high percentage of dying or dead trees in the forest, one of three remaining native Monterey pine stands in the U.S., creates a high risk of fire, falling trees and danger to structures, utilities and people, according to officials at a Fire Safe Council meeting in Cambria on Wednesday.
It’s not known yet what benefit or authority a CCSD declaration would have, or whether the district is even authorized to declare the emergency, some of the officials said. Robert Lewin, county chief for Cal Fire, said, “It may be that the one emergency already declared in the county (for drought) may be enough.” 
Emergency officials are still mulling over that issue.
Lewin said after the meeting that there are different levels of emergencies, and that in legal terms, a services district in an unincorporated area may only be able to “proclaim” that an emergency exists, not declare an emergency. Also, CCSD’s area of authority doesn’t cover the entire forest stand. However, a district proclamation likely could cover the part of the forest that’s within the district boundary.
Why proclaim the emergency? Such a notification could attract the attention of the public and other agencies that do have the power to declare emergencies, such as the county. Declared emergencies often qualify more quickly and easily for grant funds, and some of those funds are only available to declared-emergency situations.
Lewin and others said the bottom line is much of the responsibility will fall to individual property owners for removing dead and dying trees, and disposing of the wood. 
One man in the audience said he has a half dozen dead 30-foot trees on his property and “I can’t afford $2,000 a tree” to have them removed. 
While increasing the number of free “chipping events” in town could help, the officials said, Cambrians will need various different services and techniques to deal with the vast amount of wood that could be generated by efforts to bring the forest back to a healthy state.
During the meeting, Lewin and Mark Miller, chief of the Cambria Fire Department, repeatedly said they’d be ramping up this year’s inspections of defensible space around homes and removal of fire hazards and fuels from vacant lots. The inspections likely will begin earlier in the year, due to the drought, and requirements could be more stringent and all inclusive.
Cambria
The small coastal town of about 6,000 residents already is under CCSD’s water-supply emergency declaration, which has been in place since 2001, and a drought-emergency declaration since January 2014.
Cambria’s hilly terrain, limited sources of water, more than 4,610 habitable structures, 3,200 acres of Monterey pines and other trees, and relatively remote location all contribute to the fire danger, the grand jury’s March 12 report said. Compounding the problem: Most of the town’s structures are clustered in dense neighborhoods, and many of the trees are dead or dying, according to recent estimates.
The grand jury report states that fire risk is extreme in Cambria’s rare native stand of Monterey pines, a risk exacerbated by years of drought, bark beetles, pitch canker fungus and dwarf mistletoe, all of which increase tree mortality.
The Cambria Forest Committee and other groups have worked collaboratively for years to raise awareness of the forest’s condition, the risk to life and property posed by a fire within the forest or the community that weaves through it. The committee coalition even prepared an extensive forest management plan that’s been widely praised, but never formally implemented or funded.
Some of those groups have collaborated recently on applying for grant funds for forest management. One application for a $460,000 state grant was denied, but others are still being considered. 
Miller and Amanda Rice, CCSD director and member of the Forest Committee, have advocated for fire preparedness, increased communication with community members, and forest awareness and management — all of which were included in the grand jury’s report — for years.
Rice lauded Gruber on Tuesday for giving Cambria Fire the go-ahead to host some community workshops about the fire risk, the condition of the forest, “what emergency plans exist, and what community members need to do for themselves” to decrease the threat to them and their homes.
Such warnings have been issued regularly in the past. But, Rice said, the grand jury’s report goes beyond repeated warnings that the “sky is falling” and into a realm where it’s clear an immediate reaction is needed.
Gruber characterized the grand jury report as being “very, very well written.” The fire-risk situation is so potentially dire and so large, “we will need county, state and federal help here. It’s too big for us to handle” alone. “It’s overwhelming.” 
He said Cambria needs “to strategize as a community” about how to address the problems.
Jury’s opinions
The grand jury came across the fire-danger issue while investigating another, possibly related Cambria issue, according to Larry Herbst, foreman of this year’s grand jury. “In looking in another aspect of that community,” he said, “we realized very quickly that this was something we needed to focus on.”
The jury’s strongly worded advice about Cambria’s risk potential “for a catastrophic fire … heightened by the town’s combination of geography, urban buildup and current drought” came in the panel’s nine-page investigative report. 
The jury found that Cambria “faces a severe fire threat due to a combination of environmental, geographical and demographic factors,” that the public-evacuation plan that would take effect in a wildland fire or other emergency “is not well understood or publicized within the community.” While the Sheriff’s Department would execute such an evacuation plan, promoting the plan is the services district’s responsibility, and that improving fire breaks and removing dead trees and other fire hazards would reduce the fire risk.
The jury recommends that CCSD:
       Declare the state of fire emergency. Doing so is on the March 26 agenda for the services district’s Board of Directors, and Gruber said he’s urging the county to issue a similar proclamation. Those documents may help the district qualify for federal or state emergency funds or grants.
       “Obtain funding to improve forest management,” then use that funding to “improve existing fuel breaks, expand the fuel-break program, remove dead and dying trees and remove other fire hazards, such as ladder fuels and other flammable materials.”
       “Raise public awareness locally and with relevant county, state and federal emergency management agencies. Such actions might include conducting community drills, conducting a new campaign for reverse 911 sign-ups for mobile phones (because many people no longer have a landline phone) and mailing the wildfire evacuation plan to residents.
Those recommendations were echoed Wednesday by officials at the Fire Safe Council meeting, who added the need to: Remove dying, dead and downed trees, even logs on the ground; help PGE ensure compliance with clearing such trees and live-tree threats to powerlines; make sure county road and Caltrans crews address dangerous trees in their right-of-way areas, to make sure no evacuation routes or other key roadways are blocked; increase warning signage in town (the “one spark, one wildfire” kinds of signs, for instance) and scrupulously enforce bans on fireworks and firelanterns; continue to maintain established fire breaks and establish new ones in strategic locations; and increase public awareness. 
The district and county supervisors are required to respond to the jury’s findings and recommendations.
Preparing the grand jury report
The jury of 19 people from all around the county interviewed relevant staff members and board members of key organizations, including Cal Fire, CCSD Fire Department (Cambria Fire) and the county Fire Safe Council, plus two former local fire chiefs. 
In the process of preparing the report, jurists reviewed documents, organizational websites, National Fire Protection Association guidelines, Cambria Fire’s planning and strategy documents and general plan and the wildland-urban interface (WUI) fire pre-plan for the Cambria area.
The interface is the area where development meets and intrudes into the forest.
Grand jury members also attended winter-project presentations at Cal Poly, projects for which the teams of WUI Fire Protection students studied Cambria and shared their findings and recommendations with those in the audience, including Miller and his wife, Michele Miller, FFRP’s Butler, and Carlos Mendoza, CCSD’s facilities and resources supervisor and manager of Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, which encompasses a sizeable chunk of Cambria’s Monterey pine forest.
March 18, 2015
The Cambrian
By Kathe Tanner

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[Solano County] Report: Fairfield should increase marketing for police center; city agrees


FAIRFIELD — Continue to increase marketing to attract more outside law enforcement use, the Solano County grand jury recommends for the Art Koch Range & Training Center – and the Fairfield city staff agrees.
The grand jury report found the facility can expand training as more revenue is received from law enforcement outside Fairfield, a conclusion the city staff recommend the City Council support when it takes up the matter Tuesday.
Terry Riddle, grand jury foreman, sent a copy of the report to the city in January.
Fairfield, like other public agencies, is required to respond to the grand jury.
The report found the firearms range and training center at 1717 Rex Clift Lane is well maintained.
“The center is so well designed and equipped that law enforcement personnel from several city, state and federal agencies use it to enhance their performance,” the grand jury report states.
A simulator area houses a laser shooting platform for near-to-life scenarios, the grand jury noted.
Fairfield charges fees for agencies other than the police departments and revenue could allow for additions, the report adds.
The $12 million training center completed in 2008 is named for Sgt. Art Koch, the only officer in Fairfield’s history to have died in the line of duty. He died July 29, 1984.
He was responding to a disturbance call on Berkeley Way after finishing his last shift as a patrol officer. The 34-year-old father of three lay wounded for about 20 minutes before paramedics and firefighters were able to rescue him. He died a few hours later, notes the website of the Fairfield Police Officers’ Association.
City Council members meet at 6 p.m. in the chamber at 1000 Webster St.
March 18, 2015
Daily Republic
By Ryan McCarthy