Dijon Landrum of Monterey Park, California doesn’t seem to be taking stay-at-home advice seriously. In the days of old, that would be the least of his concerns.
When I talk about the days of old, I’m referring to that authoritarian period in American life when we actually thought a whole lot of crimes merited time behind bars.
Coronavirus has changed all of this. Thus, this means a whole lot of convicted criminals are spending this time at home, like the rest of us, thanks to the fact they’ve been released into the community to prevent the spread of coronavirus in prisons and jails. Well, at least we hope they’re spending this time at home.
In the case of accused criminals, this means states have also been a lot more lenient as to who spends time behind bars. In California, officials have implemented a zero-cash bail policy, which means those accused of misdemeanors and felonies deemed minor by the state are let free.
“In the first 30 days of the [no-cash bail] policy, the Los Angeles Police Department has arrested 213 individuals multiple times, with 23 being arrested three or more times,” the Los Angeles Times reported last Thursday. “They account for about 5% of all of those booked on misdemeanors or felonies, records show.”
I’ll say this for most of those arrested three or more times, though: They weren’t arrested three times in the same day.
That’s what makes Dijon Landrum special. According to a Facebook post by the Glendora Police Department, in a period of just over 12 hours, the 24-year-old Landrum received a trifecta of citations in the city, which is located about a 30-minutes drive from Los Angeles.
“On Wednesday, April 29th, at about 8:28 a.m., our officers responded to a call of a male who was attempting to break into a vehicle in the 1400 block of South Grand Ave. When we arrived, we contacted Dijon Landrum, M/24, from Monterey Park, as he was attempting to drive away in a stolen vehicle,” the department said.
That vehicle was stolen from East Los Angeles, so one assumes it was different from the one he was allegedly trying to break into. He was also allegedly in possession of stolen property and narcotics which — well, who knows? Dealers and users aren’t usually known to report these things.
“Landrum was arrested. Due to the California Zero-Bail Policy, he was issued a citation and released,” police said.
About an hour after he was released, lo and behold, police received another call.
This one involved an unknown man “carrying a box, and was walking through front yards of residences. It appeared that the male was placing items in this box as he was walking through the properties.”
You know the premise of the article by now, so you don’t get points for identifying that man as Dijon Landrum. You also don’t get points for figuring out that, when police officers arrested Landrum again, “it appeared he had property in his possession that did not belong to him.”
He was released, and for a few blessed hours, police in Glendora presumably had other crimes to attend to.
That break came to an unfortunate end at 8:49 p.m., when they “received a call of a vehicle that had just been stolen out of a parking lot in the 1300 block of South Grand Ave.”
Anyone who’s watched a late-night episode of “Dragnet” on your local VHF station knows that if the alleged perp has been picked up twice by Joe Friday and Bill Gannon during the course of a single episode, the third call’s going to be the big one. Mr. Landrum didn’t disappoint.
Officers found the vehicle going westbound on Interstate 10 and began pursuing it. The chase continued with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.
This ended in Pasadena, where Landrum was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and evading police.
This is where, on “Dragnet,” Friday would say one of his obligatory closing lines, “You couldn’t obey a stay-at-home order. Now you’re going to obey a stay-in-jail order.” Then that stentorian theme music would play. “The story you have just seen is true. The names were changed to protect the innocent.”
Well, this isn’t “Dragnet.” The names you have just seen are true. The story hasn’t been changed to protect the innocent — which Landrum is until proven guilty, of course.
And Landrum was released because of the zero-bail policy. Yes, again.
At least Landrum allegedly chose different targets. In Chino Hills, California, a man was arrested four times for allegedly trespassing at a family member’s home, KTTV reported.
Christopher Carroll was released every time, and quoted as saying that everyone “innocent or guilty should be released” from jail.
“We hear from people and they’re disappointed that someone can commit a crime and they go to jail, we go through the whole process with them and book them for the crime because there is probable cause to do that, and then because of this order, they’re released,” Cindy Bachman, public information officer for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said. “People are disappointed, they’re angry, but this is an order. We have to follow it, but we don’t have to be happy about it.”
They should be.
In Glendora, we had a man who allegedly really liked stealing cars and who, after two arrests which ended in his release, is accused of trying to evade police on California’s highways, something that’s rather unsafe even when you consider how few cars are on the road these days.
In Chino Hills, you had a man allegedly trespassing at a family member’s household, something that sounds like it could have ended more tragically than it apparently did.
You don’t think this could end with an increase in crime because people know they won’t face jail unless they commit a serious offense? Just ask these two gentlemen.
And that’s just accused criminals.
In terms of convicted criminals, we have high-risk offenders — including sexual predators — being released into the community, too.
We’ve decided the jail doors need to be swung open due to coronavirus because we’re willing to allow a bit of risk to our community so that these prisoners aren’t put at risk. It’s a literal “get out of jail free” card, and not just for minor scofflaws.
You don’t need to be Joe Friday to be outraged at this state of affairs.
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