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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Yolo deputies drop off homeless individual in Sacramento, mayor vocalizes his displeasure

Yolo County responds to video recording of homeless individual, reviewing the incident

A video recording released by Public Safety News appears to show Yolo County deputies dropping off a homeless man at a McDonald’s parking lot in Sacramento. Yolo County officials have responded to the video, saying they believe their officers acted “in good faith,” but that county officials would still review the incident. 

In the video, two officers standing in front of Yolo County Sheriff vehicles look on as a man unloads what appears to be his belongings from the back of one of the vehicles. The deputies then leave.  

An accompanying audio clip reportedly captured in an interview between a Public Safety News journalist and the man, depicts the apparently homeless individual as seemingly disoriented and unaware that he had been dropped off by police officers. 

“I’m trying to figure out who they are,” said the individual in the recording. “They’re Transformers, right? And they play other roles?” 

Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted a Sacramento Bee article about the video on Sept. 27,  expressing his displeasure. 

“I’m awaiting answers about this incident,” Steinberg said in the tweet. “It is unacceptable to offload a vulnerable person in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in @TheCityofSac. All jurisdictions must act in good faith to address our crisis of #homelessness.”

That same day, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office released a statement to Public Safety News and other outlets, saying their officers picked up the individual in the video after receiving a report of trespassing and possible vandalism. They said the man was found near Clarksburg in a rural area “void of services” and that he requested to be dropped off in Sacramento. 

“The subject requested a ride back to Sacramento and asked to be dropped off where he could find some food (he was offered money from the deputies but declined as he had his own),” the statement read. 

Mayor Steinberg responded to the statement in a letter to Sheriff Tom Lopez on Sept. 27, posted by the Sacramento Bee, expressing dissatisfaction with the explanation.  

“My colleagues and I are very unhappy about the implications of your office’s action in this case,” Steinberg wrote. “We have a serious homeless challenge already and are taking aggressive actions to bring people indoors and enforce illegal behavior. We hear rumors frequently that other jurisdictions are busing people into Sacramento. We are doing more than our fair share.” 

In a 2013 investigation by The Sacramento Bee, it was discovered that Nevada’s primary state psychiatric hospital bussed hundreds of its patients to cities around the country, including to Sacramento.

Steinberg followed the letter with a list of 15 questions “on behalf of [his] city”, interrogating the procedure of the Yolo Sheriff’s department. 

“Is this type of ‘best solution’ determination by your deputies a frequent occurrence?” Steinberg asked in the letter. “How many times have deputies been asked to or determined they should transport transient individuals from your county into neighboring jurisdictions?”

As of this writing, the Sheriff’s Office has not issued a public direct response to Steinberg’s letter. Yolo County issued a press release on Sept. 30, however, addressing the incident.

 “The Yolo County Sheriff is reviewing the incident, including the drop-off of the individual in Sacramento,” the statement read. “At this point, it appears that the deputies were acting in good faith to assist the individual by providing transportation late at night consistent with the individual’s desires.”

The statement also said that the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Health and Human Services officials would review the incident, and they planned to work with corresponding officials in Sacramento in the near future to “strengthen regional partnerships in this area of shared concern.”

Written by: Tim Lalonde — city@theaggie.org

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