Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block has clarified remarks that put him at odds last week with Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates about some impacts of jail overcrowding
Block contacted The Times this week to say he gave the wrong impression when he asserted in an interview that his department does not require other law enforcement agencies to notify it in advance before bringing prisoners to county jails.
The Sheriff's Department, which operates the jails, has requested such notification, he said.
Gates had said in a letter to the Los Angeles Police Commission last week that the Sheriff's Department "requires prior notification before they will authorize detention. . . . During the notification process, sheriff's personnel review the circumstances of the arrest, and if in their judgment the subject qualifies for release (under a Penal Code provision that requires law enforcement agencies to free certain accused misdemeanants in return for their promise to appear in court) . . . authorization for detention may be denied."
The sheriff said in last week's interview that his department does not require that its personnel review arrests.
He said this week, however, that he had since learned that jail officials had sent a series of teletypes to other law enforcement agencies that resulted in "some contradictions and . . . a little confusion" about his agency's policies.
He said he learned that the teletypes said accused misdemeanants will not be accepted for booking at county jails if they are legally eligible for release based upon their promises to appear in court.
"I still do not believe there has been any refusal to accept inmates who have been presented for booking," he said this week, with the exception of arrestees who needed medical attention and were referred elsewhere.
Gates' letter to the Police Commission said, however, that the Sheriff's Department has been refusing to house some inmates, including some accused felons arrested by Los Angeles police, because its jails were too crowded. This resulted in a need to expand the Police Department's own jails, the letter said.
Gates' letter, which the Police Commission approved, urged that city officials "explore the option of recovering . . . costs (for the jail expansion) from the county" which is charged by state law with the responsibility of housing arrestees.
Block on Thursday sent a letter to all local police agencies in the county clarifying his agency's policies.
He asked, as he has before, that they not book their prisoners directly at county jails but rather use their own jails to hold prisoners until it is time to take them to court for arraignments.
He asked them to notify County Jail officials before bringing in arrestees, and warned them to expect delays in booking at county jails because of overcrowded conditions.
He also said the Sheriff's Department will strictly apply the Penal Code section requiring that certain accused misdemeanants be freed on their promise to appear in court.