I believe there is a crucial untold story behind the recent attempted murders and hate crime attacks in our city (“Attempted murder arrest,” Santa Monica Daily Press, March 10). Specifically, the violent attacks detailed in the SMDP news report are latest example of local criminal-friendly policies fueling violent crime in Santa Monica.

According to publicly available law enforcement records, the individual identified as the attacker in these attempted murders had been arrested on other charges on January 19, released on probation two weeks later, then arrested for a felony on February 21. And despite being arrested for that felony only days after being released on probation, he was released from jail yet again—this time on his “own recognizance”— within hours of his felony arrest.

And just 10 days later, on March 3, the attempted murders, violent hate crime attacks, occurred in Santa Monica.

Worse yet, probation and “own recognizance” programs not only released the individual identified as committing those violent hate crimes and attempted murders here, but violent offenders had been released via precisely the same means before committing a murder and an assault with a deadly weapon in our city last year. Now, in early 2023, here we go again.

And how on earth does someone arrested for a felony shortly after being released on probation receive a same-day release from jail on the felony, as happened just days before the recent attempted murder and hate crime attacks in Santa Monica?

The primary responsibility for such tragic failure lies with The LA County Probation Department, which not only advises courts on whether to grant probation and supervises individuals on probation releases, but also operates a program dedicated to “helping” courts decide whether inmates should be released on their own recognizance. The LA County Board of Supervisors, whose Third District includes Santa Monica, appoints the head of the Probation Department.

And the violent aftermath of the County’s approaches make clear and evident that the Probation Department standards are dangerously flawed and need wholesale revision.

I also propose that the elected County judges who release and re-release violent criminals grow far more skeptical about County Probation Department recommendations, while the California State legislature revise any State laws that require or allow judges or probation officials to release violent offenders.

Lastly, it seems to me our City government has an important role to play. The Santa Monica City Council should push back hard against County policies that enable violent crime in our city and pass bold new ordinances that require tough local prosecution of violent offenders arrested for misdemeanors here. With our Police Department and City Attorney’s Office, set a goal of keeping violent offenders jailed. Every single one of them. Do not settle for arrests and charges that ultimately allow violent offenders to be released to re-offend again and again.

Bottom line: Violent crime is an issue that currently undisturbed government officials must no longer excuse or ignore.


Peter DiChellis, Santa Monica