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Anaheim, Stung by Critics, Kills Plan to Charge a Fee for Arrest

Times Staff Writer

Stung by public opposition, the Anaheim City Council has reversed itself and killed a proposed ordinance that could have forced people arrested by police to pay for their investigation and prosecution even if a criminal court later found them not guilty.

“It’s one of those things that shouldn’t have happened,” Mayor Pro-Tem Irv Pickler said after the vote Tuesday night. “We wish we would have caught it. I got so many calls. . . . I did and the mayor did, too.”

During public discussion, Anaheim resident Catherine Davison chastised the council for allowing the matter to be considered in the first place.

“You have made the city of Anaheim a laughingstock. I’m very upset,” Davison said.

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More than a dozen Orange County cities, including Anaheim, already charge motorists convicted of drunk driving for their arrests and the costs of any accidents they cause. But the proposal to charge fees of anyone arrested on suspicion of a crime--even if they weren’t convicted--was much broader than any other ordinance in the state. And some legal authorities had argued that the law was probably unconstitutional.

The hastily prepared plan won preliminary approval last week on a 5-0 council vote, but few had studied the matter closely, city officials admitted. Even Police Chief Joseph T. Molloy apparently was unaware of the proposal until it was first placed on the agenda last week, one city official said.

Nor had the Anaheim city attorney’s office calculated how much money could be raised if the ordinance became law, although its aim was to recover money from criminals and deter lawbreakers.

Anaheim officials conceded Tuesday that the proposal had created strong public opposition. Pickler and Councilman Fred Hunter said Tuesday that their major objections to the proposal were the constitutional questions raised.

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