Whittier, CA – The Superior Court of Los Angeles County has implemented a new, permanent bail schedule set to take effect on October 1, 2023. Chief Bar of the Whittier Police Department has released an official statement expressing concern that the schedule will result in a "significant increase in criminals released back into the community shortly after their arrest."
Changes in the Bail Schedule
The new bail schedule will mandate that the majority of criminals arrested for misdemeanors and a growing list of non-violent felonies will be released at the location of arrest with a "notice to appear in court." This notice can set a court appearance weeks or months after the arrest. Offenses covered under this new approach include car theft, property theft, commercial burglaries, and drug sales, among others.
Impact on Local Law Enforcement
Chief Bar lamented that the new bail schedule would further erode law enforcement’s ability to maintain safety in communities like Whittier and Santa Fe Springs. These areas are significantly impacted by property, retail, and quality-of-life crimes. Chief Bar pointed out that the county and state seem to be losing the "will to hold criminals accountable."
The Role of "Magistrate Review"
The new schedule includes a provision for "magistrate review," where a judge will electronically assess whether criminals who pose a "greater risk to the public" should be held in jail or released. The Chief cited a past incident in October 2020 involving a felon who was released following a magistrate review and later attacked a police officer.
Community Partnerships Remain Crucial
Despite these changes, the Whittier Police Department remains committed to serving its community. Chief Bar concluded that keeping the community safe is still very much a collective endeavor, involving not just the police but also community members.
A Broader Perspective
The announcement comes as part of a larger shift in the criminal justice system that is not without controversy. Supporters argue that the changes are an important step toward a more equitable justice system, but the experiences of communities like Whittier may serve as cautionary tales.
For Whittier residents, these new changes in law enforcement practices could bring about a period of adjustment and concern. As the community grapples with this new reality, the Whittier Police Department assures its commitment to public safety remains steadfast.