The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the state Department of Justice are the latest government agencies to be sued by a group representing registered sex offenders challenging the LASD’s requirement that they be required to leave their homes and appear in person at local stations for regular registration updates during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws brought the suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking a court order suspending the requirements to appear in person until the threat of the pandemic is over.
An LASD spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Similar suits were previously filed against the city of Murrieta, as well as San Diego and Sacramento counties.
“Updates can be completed through means that do not require vulnerable persons to subject … to a risk of harm that is universally recognized by national, state and local government in violation of orders issued by those same governments,” the suit states. “This issue warrants the court’s attention at this time because the extraordinary measures now being taken to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are undermined by requiring registrants to continue to appear in person for periodic updates.”
Requiring in-person visits to LASD stations during a pandemic, in contravention of state and local orders, is an abuse of discretion, the suit alleges.
The group believes many registering agencies throughout California are processing periodic updates over the telephone, according to its court papers.
“The LAPD does not require registrants to appear in person while the COVID-19 emergency measures are in place,” the suit says. “Instead, the LAPD has placed signs … on the exterior of its police stations confirming that the LAPD’s registration policy is currently modified to accommodate the COVID-19 emergency measures.”
One co-plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, is vulnerable to infection by COVID-19 due to chronic medical conditions including asthma, the suit states.
The law “does not require registrants to play Russian roulette with their lives in order to provide the information required for their periodic updates,” the suit states.