Last Tuesday night at council, a man wandered in and found a seat. Turns out this fellow had been arrested for drunk in public in Arcata earlier in the day. He had been released from jail and came to council to find a ride back to Arcata. During council discussion he began an attempt to speak up but stopped. He then went back and had a talk with Captain O’Neill, with whom he shared his dilemma. Captain O’Neill secured a ride for this man back to Arcata.
How many drunk-in-public and catch-and-release folks from other jurisdictions end up stuck in our city every day? Watch Lost Coast Outpost’s “Booked” and “Released” sections for a week, a month, and notice a pattern. We seem to spend far too many resources through our police and fire on re-arrests and medical calls from folks who have no way to get back to their jurisdiction.
This is not a new topic of conversation in our county. Back in 2014-2015 the Humboldt County Grand Jury issued a report: Transportation of Indigent Detainees in Accordance with California Penal Code Section 686.5.
According to the Grand Jury report Humboldt County Correctional Facility Officers were not informing those that qualify that they have the legal right to request transportation assistance.
My question is: What makes us think someone who has been arrested for things like drunk in public would always have the wherewithal to “ask.” No. I believe it is important for us to have infrastructure in place.
It is time to reopen this conversation. This issue impacts our city on so many levels — safety, police and fire time and resources, the list goes on.
It would seem that there should be a way through the Sheriff’s Office and other jurisdictions to provide some type of transportation back to city people are arrested in.
Friends, the time is now. State laws have left our police and sheriff hamstrung. Returning people back to city of origin will certainly decrease the re-arrests and taxation on police resources. My hope and goal is to bring this conversation forward and look at reasonable solutions for something that currently bogs our city down.
Please join me in the conversation. Let’s work together to make our city more safe.
Kim Bergel is a member of the Eureka City Council.