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No Alerts Sent Out by City, Sheriff's Department During Manhunt

Malibu residents express concern about why they were not notified through official city of Malibu channels about the law enforcement operation.

A seven-hour long manhunt for an alleged kidnapper on Pacific Coast Highway had some Corral Canyon residents concerned for their safety early Monday. As helicopters searched overhead, they had little information other than news reports.

The search for Jaci Barragon, 32 began just after 2 a.m. Monday when a deputy went to investigate a Nissan Sentra parked on the side of PCH at Corral Canyon Road. A deputy managed to place a handcuff on Barragon's right wrist, but there was a struggle and Barragon ran away, prompting a massive search by land and air. A woman, who was apparently kidnapped and sexually assaulted, was taken to a hospital for treatment.

One Corral Canyon resident said he awoke to the sound of helicopters.

"I called the sheriff's department and they said they are looking for a man ... and that it would be best to stay inside with doors locked," he said in an email to Malibu Patch.

Barragon remains out of custody and the search is continuing.

The city of Malibu and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department both have Nixle accounts, which send out alerts to residents with public safety information. The city of Malibu contracts with the sheriff's department for its policing services.

No alerts were sent out by either account to Malibu residents.

Several residents questioned why they were not informed officially by the city.

"I am wondering why the City's Emergency Connect system did not notify residents of this active manhunt in our city. After all this guy is an escaped kidnapper/car thief that is as I write this, hiding and lurking around the hills of Malibu. Needless to say parents at the school I dropped my kids off at this morning, which is in relative close proximity to the manhunt, are a little freaked out," according to a comment posted by a user named "Zuma Skipper."

Mari Stanley, a Malibu resident, wrote that she was concerned about the lack of official communication from the city.

"We have a right to demand that public funds are expended with maximum public benefits realized. The city has a fiduciary responsibility to the public and should be held accountable for such an indiscretion as this," Stanley said.

According to Malibu's spokeswoman Olivia Damavandi, the city's reason is simple.

"The city was not alerted about the situation this morning," Damavandi said. "When the sheriff's department provides the city about incidences that affect Malibu residents, we help promulgate the message via our communications channels. However, nobody at the city was made aware of this morning's incident from the sheriff's department."

Damavandi said when public safety issues are under the jurisdiction of another agency, "it is the responsibility of that governing agency to disseminate the information."

After Damavandi's response, City Manager Jim Thorsen clarified that he did receive a notification at 2:18 a.m., but the city's Emergency Services Coordinator, Brad Davis, was left off the email list.

"Normally the Sheriff Dept. does an excellent job of notifying various city individuals of incidents within our vicinity. Typically both Brad Davis and I receive information. I did receive an email at 2:17 a.m. from the Sheriff Dept. with minimal details about the incident, but did I did not check email until this morning," Thorsen said.

Thorsen said Davis was out sick and was unaware of the search. Davis often sends out Nixle alerts for the city.

The last Nixle alert sent out by the city of Malibu was on Dec. 6 when Las Flores Road was closed in both directions for several hours.

Lt. Jim Royal, who was off duty during the early morning search, said the sheriff's department sent a notification to the city soon after the manhunt began.

"We communicate with the city every time and we did this time. Every major media organization had this thing," Royal said, adding that he will make some inquiries to add the city's spokeswoman and emergency services coordinator to the notification list in the future.

Royal said the department also provided information to the media as it was available through interviews. He said the department normally sends out Nixle alerts about lesser known events.

Carolyn Wallace January 28, 2013 at 10:35 PM
And no one at the City watches the news or subscribes to Patch?
Michaela January 28, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Lost Hills Station would not have fallen down on the job under Captain Stephen.
Zuma Skipper January 29, 2013 at 03:24 AM
I don't really think it's Lost Hills that dropped the ball on this one. 1. According to Lost Hills: "Lt. Jim Royal, who was off duty during the early morning search, said the sheriff's department sent a notification to the city soon after the manhunt began." 2. According to Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen: "Normally the Sheriff Dept. does an excellent job of notifying various city individuals of incidents within our vicinity. Typically both Brad Davis and I receive information. I did receive an email at 2:17 a.m. from the Sheriff Dept. with minimal details about the incident, but did I did not check email until this morning," Thorsen said. And finally from Lt. Royal of Lost Hills Station: 3. "We communicate with the city every time and we did this time. Every major media organization had this thing," Royal said, adding that he will make some inquiries to add the city's spokeswoman and emergency services coordinator to the notification list in the future. Bottom line, there was a failure in the system that prevented the people most at risk, the citizens of Malibu, from being notified in a timely manner that a clear and present danger existed throughout the early morning and most of the day today. This incident needs to be viewed as a serious learning lesson for the City on how not to handle this type of incident in the future.
A Long-Time resident January 29, 2013 at 04:33 AM
This is just one more bungled operation by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. They only checked cars coming down the hill long after the incident unfolded. They had no roadblocks or personnel up the hill when it was still dark. How anyone could believe that an e-mail sent in the middle of the night constitutes proper notification of the city and, more importantly, Corral Canyon residents is troubling. We all remember the communication fiasco, i.e. the reverse 911 system failure and the slow and ineffective communication of danger by the officers during the 2007 Corral Canyon fire. We have learned that we are on our own with these folks through hard, bitter experience.
Zuma Skipper January 29, 2013 at 05:46 AM
They probably were only checking cars coming down the hill because that is the only driveable way out of Corral Canyon. They were probably checking cars to make sure the suspect wasn't in one of them. If I'm not mistaken the City's Emergency Connect is a text, not an email. Call me crazy but I for one would rather have a text at 2:00 am telling me that there is a Felony Kidnap/Sexual Assault suspect on the loose in my area and to stay inside and call the Sheriffs if I hear or see anything suspicious.
E Barry Haldeman January 29, 2013 at 04:56 PM
This is no joke. While no one begrudges Brad from being "out sick" is there no back up system for emergencies in the city? It seems to me that our entire emergency notification system cannot depend on just one guy. There should be those tasked with manning the system 24 hours. Rotate it among city staffers who are "on call" say once a month. Is that so hard? And, of course, the Sheriff should notify a number of people when something like this occurs. Would it have been so difficult to make one call to the on duty emergency person by the Sheriff's office at 2 am or later because it is not likely they would be looking at email? I urge the city to investigate this and close the holes; next time it could be way more serious.
Marshall Thompson January 29, 2013 at 05:30 PM
The "City" simply thinks it is more important to hire additional staff in administrative positions than in public safety. At one time Brad had a subsidized assistant from some outside agency but no more. With Lost Hills being so far away in terms of drive time, Brad is all we got. Of course the new $14 million grant for highway and intersection safety on PCH will provide us with oh-so-important bike lanes as it's # 1 priority as voiced last night by City Manager Thorsen. In my opinion we need at least one additional full-time, professional emergency response employee and a City-provided emergency vehicle. At this time, Brad uses his own truck.
Zuma Skipper January 29, 2013 at 06:28 PM
E Barry and Marshall, I couldn't agree more. The City does have some kind of patrol car. I have seen it driving around Malibu. It is white with a City logo and police lights on the roof. There are uniformed people driving the car. Not sure who/what they are though.
R Y A N January 29, 2013 at 07:14 PM
First, the City Managaer is the Director of Emergency Services, by default, and the year-long planning for Emergency Preparedness is much more theoretical with table-top exercises, drills, and citizen training. During real local emergencies, the City Manager, and NOT the Emergency Services Coordinator, is the person in charge. Always has been, always will be. It comes from the military Incident Command structure. For example, the ESC might review the functionality, cost, and features of mass-notification systems, or even maintain the data base, but when to "pull the trigger" typically comes from above.
Paul Grisanti January 29, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Why no NIXLE email from the Sheriffs on this event???????
Charles C. Fu January 29, 2013 at 09:20 PM
From the article, "He said the [Sheriff's] department normally sends out Nixle alerts about lesser known events." That was certainly my experience—the Sheriff's department ONLY uses Nixle to send out alerts for minor stuff. So, I unsubscribed from Nixle a few months ago.
What? January 30, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I just got a Nixle Alert from the Sheriff's, feeling so relieved knowing that I can't be alerted about aggressive criminals roaming around in the dark but the Sheriff's ensures me that all is just fine with the news of the Chief and a Seargent heading off to to So Korea. Seems that they must jet off to participate in a charity torch run - with other heads of law enforcement 'from around the world' (whoohooo!) - and then there's a little matter of jumping into frozen water for some other Big Event that must have relevance to - oh, I can't keep up this pretense. We get PR notices but not the information to keep our house and families safe from escaped criminals that are deemed dangerous and could be armed. Nixle, thank you for absolutely nothing since you've turned into a little propagada bulldozer. Another good idea gone political and hijacked. Cut the BS and keep it for actual news items to preserve it's intent to provide information of importance to the communities!!!
barbara Bassill January 30, 2013 at 06:21 AM
This is almost hilarious. How can such a man-hunt happening and we residents are NOT alerted in a timely, orderly, properly, organized fashion? I, too, woke up due to helicopter noise and turned on my computer. At about 5 AM I saw on Patch -thank God for them~what was happening. This is not OK! We must and need to have a better system! There needs to be a meeting about this. My email is:barbarababsibassill@gmail.com~I'm happy to organize it.
Zuma Skipper January 30, 2013 at 07:54 AM
I agree, hey Thorsen, for the $270k a year we are paying you next time get your rump out of bed at 2:00 am when the Sheriffs notify you and fire up the Emergency Connect System and notify your citzens.
Scott Wagenseller January 31, 2013 at 03:17 AM
Malibu Patrol notifies it's clients of incidents like this that are likely to effect them. We are constantly monitoring police and fire frequencies for just this reason. Malibu Patrol is a local security service that installs and monitors alarm and camera systems and provides 24 hour patrol and response services. We run a 24 hour dispatch office in Pacific Palisades and our office was monitoring the entire event. I am willing to meet with any resident or group to explore how we could support the community. Scott Wagenseller 310-456-1477
David Saul February 02, 2013 at 06:18 AM
If you want to make comments please feel free to attend the next Public Safety Comission hearing next Wednesday at 6 pm at city hall. We would love to hear from any and all concerned citizens
Jessica E. Davis February 02, 2013 at 06:34 AM
Thanks for the invitation David Saul. I hope people take you up on this offer.

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