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Local law enforcement officials host forum on late night jail releases

EUREKA- With a community still in shock from the death of Rev. Eric Freed, law enforcement officials attempted to answer communities questions about the Humboldt County Jail's policy of late night releases.

"How do we protect the community, while vigorously protecting the rights of the individual?" asked Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills.

Local clergy and police officials organized Wednesday's meeting at the Wharfinger Building that looked to answer the communities questions and concerns over the policy. The meeting was held in response to the late night release of Gary Bullock, the man accused of killing Rev. Eric Freed.

"I think the goal today is to develop precise policy guidelines," said Rev. Susan Armstrong of the Christ Church.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos, Sheriff Mike Downy and Public Defender Kevin Robinson were some of the panelists that answered the communities questions.

Ed Wilkinson with the Humboldt County Correctional Facility said each county can regulate the amount of hours they hold a person who has been arrested for being under the influence. Wilkinson said the time can range from three to eight hours.

Community members are concerned over the jails procedure of releasing jail inmates over night, mainly when there is no public transportation available. Undersheriff Bill Honsal said the jail can not hold people after they have been released, but said the county can work with the community to develop outside organizations to help people get home after they are released.

Wilkinson said other rural areas have release policies that occur during the day time because of transportation issues.

Chief Mills said this could be the start to developing policies or alternative procedures with the public. "This is what community policing is all about," he said.