Supes discuss jail population amid civil unrest

Los Angeles County Seal.
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Supervisors addressed recent civil unrest, but put on hold a motion that urged law enforcement agencies countywide to update their use-of-force policies at Tuesday’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Supervisors said the use-of-force motion is set to be revisited June 23, while the board approved two related motions to assist in maintaining a reduced jail population post-COVID-19, as the county’s jails have been overcrowded, even prior to the pandemic, according to county officials.

“So it’s obvious to me that we can collaborate and do what needs to be done on behalf of the community, but also recognizing that we’ve got a lot more work to do in terms of diversion, preventing them from even ending up in our jails in the first place,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger of the 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, adding, “I think that this is a real positive step that’s going to have positive outcomes.”

Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, county officials have worked together to reduce the jail population by 5,000 people, and reached as low as 11,765 on May 1, marking the first time in decades that the L.A. County jail system’s population was lower than the state’s capacity, according to Supervisor Hahn, and many of the supervisors agreed that this change was a “silver lining” of the pandemic. 

“The protests that we’ve seen across Los Angeles County, across this country, in my opinion, they’ve been incredibly peaceful, they’ve been impressive, they’ve been important, and they’ve been momentous,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, of the 4th District. “And, for the first time in my life, I believe they’re making people rethink the role of systemic racism in our society and the role of law enforcement.”

In addition, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion to send a five-signature letter expressing support to Assembly Bill 1196, which would ban the use of carotid artery restraints  statewide by law enforcement, which is a method of rendering a person unconscious by restricting the flow of blood to the brain by compressing the sides of the neck, a technique that has come into question following the death of George Floyd.

Other motions

In addition, the Board of Supervisors voted to unanimously approve a number of other motions related to the Santa Clarita Valley, including a motion that would allow the appropriate departments to develop countywide guidelines for implementation of temporary outdoor dining spaces. 

This comes after California Alcoholic Beverage Control officials updated their regulatory relief notices on alcohol sale and consumption, giving businesses the opportunity to apply for permits that would allow them to serve alcoholic beverages and food on adjacent sidewalks, parking lots and in city streets in the coming months as they reopen for dine-in services.

The motion is set to further that opportunity by creating a streamlined permit process and request system. 

The Board of Supervisors also approved the Newhall Ranch Sanitation District’s 2020 expenses and meeting minutes, which detailed the $159,135 budgeted for operations, maintenance and capital projects since the district was created to service the new 21,000-home project’s infrastructure in December, along with its $827,000 fiscal budget for 2020-21. 

Additionally, the Board of Supervisors approved a renovation project at the Orchard Arms Senior Apartments, located on the 23000 block of Wiley Canyon Road in Valencia, awarding a $475,000 construction contract to JJJ Floor Covering Inc. to completely replace flooring at the senior public housing complex in four buildings with a total of 183 dwelling units.

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