Hi Seal Beach,
This week we received a question about a specific incident that occurred a couple of months ago. I am electing not to publish the question in its entirety, as there are some concerns with privacy for those involved. Instead, I’ll summarize the question.
The resident asked about an incident involving a family member who was under the influence of an illegal drug. During this incident, the family member jumped out of a moving car, leaving her child behind, and got into a vehicle with someone she did not know. The resident asked why no charges were brought against the family member who was under the influence of drugs.
To help answer this question, I solicited the help of Officer Ryan Bedard. Officer Bedard has been a police officer for 12 years, and has been with the SBPD since 2017. Here is Officer Bedard’s response:
“Hello and thank you for your question. I’m sorry to hear about your incident and hopefully this response can answer your question and shed some light on the actions taken by officers during calls for service. The Seal Beach Police Department takes all of our calls for service very seriously and any crime which occurs in the City of Seal Beach is fully investigated to the best of our ability. Arrests will be made when the elements of a crime are met and there is sufficient probable cause, which is the legal standard for making an arrest. In short, probable cause means that a reasonable individual would believe that a crime was in the process of being committed, or had been committed, or was going to be committed. It has to be more obvious than not that a crime occurred (or is occurring, or is about to occur) than not.
“Often members of the public, witnesses, or persons involved may not understand why officers make the decisions they do in particular situations, and although it may not seem like action is being taken, it often is.
“In order for an arrest to occur, police officers must first determine if a crime took place and then determine if all of the elements of the crime are met pursuant to the California Penal Code, Vehicle Code, Health and Safety Code, etc. If enough probable cause exists, officers can make an arrest. Some factors may affect the outcome and decisions made during the time of call. This can include, but is not limited to, the mental health of the parties involved, conflicting statements of witnesses and parties involved, and legal updates from legislation.
“California is unique in that, the introduction of legislation, such as Proposition 47 and 57 have made many non-violent crimes, which used to be felonies, into misdemeanors. This includes most drug offenses, including being under the influence. With jail overcrowding and decisions from California law makers, subjects who are arrested for misdemeanor crimes are often issued a citation and released on a promise to appear in court.
“I am familiar with the case you are referring to and would like to assure you, the Seal Beach Police Officers involved during that call for service, did in fact, take the proper course of action. The safety of your family member was one of our primary concerns. Once the child was safe, the Los Angeles Department of Children Services was contacted and took guardianship of the child to ensure she was taken care of and provided proper care. They will conduct follow-up and assess the child’s living situation to ensure she is properly being cared for and if necessary place her in protective custody until the courts determine what is best.
“Secondly, your family member, who jumped from the slow moving vehicle, was placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 5150. During this time, she will see a medical professional who will determine her mental health and provide her with resources, which could include medication, drug addiction programs, mental health services, etc. Subjects under the influence of narcotics often exhibit behaviors which may imitate subjects who suffer from mental health problems and it can often be difficult to tell the difference. Without going into too much detail, the long and short term consequences from using drugs, such as methamphetamine, can often cause side effects like hallucinations, paranoia, and unusual behavior, despite no longer clinically being under the influence of any particular drug.
“And lastly, as mentioned above, although it may not seem like action is being taken in the field, it probably is. Charges were in fact filed with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for Child Endangerment – Penal Code 273(a), by way of complaint. The District Attorney’s Office will make the ultimate decision on whether enough probable cause exists to adjudicate the case. The court process often takes time, especially with many of the court closures and case backlogs as a result of COVID 19. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for cases to take several months to be adjudicated.
“I hope this answered your question. As always, the Seal Beach Police Department is open to your questions and concerns. Should you require any additional explanations, or want to provide any additional comments, please feel free to come into the police department and speak with the Watch Commander on duty. Additionally, you could also check out our Seal Beach Police Instagram page. Our Social Media Team is always vigilant and willing to provide answers to community members through private messaging. We always look for ways to improve our service to the community and thank you for asking your question.”
Thanks Officer Bedard for your thorough response. Please keep your questions coming. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.