Troubled Group Home Closes Doors, US Attorney General Visits Richmond, CA, LASD Immigration Policy…and MoreSeptember 25th, 2015 by Taylor Walker
SCANDAL-PLAGUED GROUP HOME TO SHUT DOWN FOLLOWING STATE INVESTIGATION AND NEGATIVE PUBLICITY
A group home for foster kids who arguably need the highest level of care is scheduled to shut down in October.
At the Long Beach group home run by Bayfront Youth and Family Services, kids run away and beg neighbors for help, and staff reportedly tackle children in the street and aggressively restrain them, and fail to provide adequate services and programs.
Bayfront’s board of directors decided to close the toxic facility, which is designated a Level 14 (the most restrictive level), after the CA Department of Social Services discovered numerous violations by operators and staff.
ProPublica’s Joaquin Sapien has more on the Bayfront story. Here’s a clip:
On Wednesday, a Bayfront official sent an email to state and county officials informing them that Bayfront’s chief executive officer, Maryam Ribadu, and the home’s board of directors had decided to close the facility. The email, according to several people who have seen it, claimed the decision to close the facility was driven in large part by negative publicity surrounding its recent operations.
In August, ProPublica reported on Bayfront’s long history of trouble with regulators and local residents. For the better part of a year, Bayfront had been plagued by allegations of physical abuse, frequent emergency police calls, high staff turnover, runaway children and heated altercations between group home employees and neighbors. The home became the subject of two investigations — one led by DSS and another by the Los Angeles County Probation Department. The probation department had placed a hold on the facility in July, barring it from admitting any new children from the county.
It’s unclear where the children currently living in the 40-bed facility will go. Some will likely be reunited with their biological families; others likely will be sent to foster families and group homes elsewhere in the state.
California has struggled for years to provide adequate services and supervised care for thousands of foster children and those who wind up in the juvenile justice system. Over the past several years, several large group homes and juvenile detention centers have closed in the face of reports of abuse and neglect. The state legislature is now moving toward eliminating group homes almost entirely, with the aim of reserving them strictly for short-term stays.
Kathy Hughes, the top official at another social services agency that had been renting the property to Bayfront since May 2012, said she had been planning on terminating Bayfront’s lease on December 31, but that she had hoped the facility could relocate.
“It’s really a shame,” said Hughes, who is the chief executive officer at ChildNet.
“While not shocking,” she added, “it’s extremely disappointing. I don’t see the larger problem going away. We still have more kids than we can deal with.” Hughes said her agency gets over 300 calls a month for children she can’t place in foster homes.
“We have a real problem going on here,” she said. “And now we have one less group home.”
Michael Weston, a spokesman for DSS, which oversees group homes throughout the state, said this week that “any decision to relocate or close the Bayfront group home is a decision made by Bayfront management.”
“With the closure of any group home,” he said, “the department’s focus is on ensuring that all youth’s needs are continually met and to reduce any negative effects of transfer trauma into an appropriate new placement.”
US ATTORNEY GENERAL AIMS TO MAKE RICHMOND, CA A NATIONAL MODEL IN COMMUNITY POLICING, CRIME REDUCTION
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch will visit the city of Richmond, CA on her tour of cities that have made huge progress on their police-community relations. With help from its police chief, Chris Magnus, and its innovative Office of Neighborhood Safety, Richmond was transformed from a city plagued by gun violence and a scandal-ridden police department into a city worthy of serving as a national model.
We’ve written about Chief Magnus (here), and about the Office of Neighborhood Safety (here), which pays the city’s young men most likely to shoot or be shot a monthly stipend to stay out of trouble, along with providing mentoring, education, and other services.
The Richmond Confidential’s Matt Beagle has the story. Here’s a clip:
Lynch, the first African-American woman to hold the position, comes to Richmond as the last stop of a multi-city tour. The Attorney General’s website describes the trip as an effort to “highlight some of the most promising work that citizens and law enforcement are doing together to build new foundations of trust, respect and mutual understanding.” In addition to Richmond, Lynch has visited Cincinnati, Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Seattle and East Haven, Connecticut.
Richmond has drawn praise for its dramatic reduction in violent crime. The community policing efforts under Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus and the Office of Neighborhood Safety have attracted national headlines.
Barry Krisberg, senior fellow at the University of California at Berkeley law school, and author of books on race and the juvenile justice system, said there was little mystery as to why Lynch chose to visit Richmond as a way to promote effective community policing.
Magnus is on the right track, Krisberg said.
“Richmond has bar none the best police chief in the state and arguably in the country,” he said. “If you were looking for what police ought to do, I would send you to Richmond.”
Magnus could help national leaders inspire changes around the country in the culture of policing.
LASD’S NEW IMMIGRATION COMPLIANCE POLICY: A PUBLIC SAFETY IMPROVEMENT, OR VIOLATION OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS
On KPCC’s Air Talk, Patt Morrison, standing in for host Larry Mantle, talks with Melissa Keaney, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Centre, and Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies, about Los Angeles Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s new policy to let federal immigration agents into jails to question undocumented inmates.
Keaney calls the policy a disheartening “step backwards,” and says it may give US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “unfettered access to the jails and databases” because too much of the policy is left up to interpretation. Keaney calls for oversight and transparency as the department puts the policy into practice.
Krikorian disagrees, calling the department’s shift toward compliance with ICE “a baby step in the right direction,” but nothing “worth throwing a parade for.”
“This is the absolute lowest common denominator of cooperation with [ICE] that you could have and still sleep at night,” says Krikorian.
Take a listen for yourself.
LAPD CHIEF CHARLIE BECK CONDEMNS ACTIONS OF SECOND OFFICER IN BEATING OF CLINTON ALFORD
Last fall, Los Angeles police officer Richard Garcia was allegedly caught by a store’s security camera kicking and hitting a young man in the head while he was being restrained on the ground. After viewing the footage, LAPD officials said 22-year-old Clinton Alford was not resisting arrest, and one viewer described it as “a football player kicking a field goal.”
In April, Garcia was charged with assault. But according to a report made public Tuesday during a civilian police commission meeting, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck faulted an unnamed second officer’s actions (standing on the prone suspect’s feet and ankles) as unreasonable use of force. The police commission agreed with Chief Beck, concluding that both officers used unnecessary force in detaining Alford.
The LA Times’ Kate Mather has the story. Here’s a clip:
An LAPD spokesman declined to comment on the Police Commission’s decision, saying it may trigger disciplinary proceedings that are kept private under state law.
Caree Harper, Alford’s attorney, said actions should have been taken against the officers sooner, given what was seen on the video. She said her client wants the officers fired.
“What takes the chief almost a year to come up with a conclusion that could have been made instantaneously is beyond me,” she said.
Robert Rico, who is representing Garcia in his criminal case, said he wasn’t surprised by the Police Commission’s ruling. He said he believed the board lost its credibility this year after its controversial decision to fault a police officer who fatally shot Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man, during a struggle over the officer’s gun.
“I do not give that Police Commission any credence,” Rico said. “In order for them to have come to that decision, they had to have ignored all the facts and all the other officer statements that said Mr. Alford was continuing to resist.”
Beck’s report outlines a narrative from the officers, who said Alford resisted their efforts to detain him and struggled even after he was handcuffed. Sources who saw the video have told The Times that Alford was not resisting the officers.
One source said Tuesday that the officers’ comments were being further investigated as a result of the discrepancy. The recording, which was captured by a security camera on a nearby building, has not been made public.
It is now up to Beck to decide whether to discipline the officers, who could receive more training, face suspensions or lose their jobs. None have returned to work since the arrest, an LAPD spokesman said Tuesday.