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O.C. Jail Staff, Inmate Treatment Defended

July 07, 2002

Re "O.C. Jail Officials Accused of Abuses," June 27:

I must disagree with attorney Richard Herman. I have been a Newport Beach reserve police officer for 29 years. One of my duties is to deliver prisoners from the Newport Beach City Jail to Orange County Jail. During this time, I have seen Orange County Jail develop into a thoroughly modern facility, reflecting the directives of state and federal overseers of prisons and jails, concerned about the well-being of its inmates, and, above all, the safety of its deputies and inmates. I have never witnessed unprofessional behavior by the intake deputies, even when the prisoner is accused of a horrific crime. Prisoner rights appear to be foremost in deputies' minds while maintaining officer safety. There is an exacting medical screening of prisoners.

Medical safety for all concerned is tantamount, and all prisoners are treated the same. An exacting search of the prisoners' person, clothes and property is necessary to ensure that no contraband gets past the intake area. Would Herman want drugs, weapons or contagious diseases to be spread? This concern should exceed any prisoner discomfort in having to stand for a while.

There is no expectation of privacy in jail. This is especially so when the safety of deputies and other prisoners is concerned. There is no "code of silence" nor is there a "silent green wall." Jail deputies do not make the rules. Supervisors run the jail according to federal and state laws. Supervisors do run the jail based on Sheriff Mike Corona's interpretation of those policies.

If any deputy or supervisor chooses not to follow those directives, then his or her career with the Orange County Sheriff's Department will be short.

Jeff Habermehl

Irvine

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