Hayward considers next steps for underused city jail

The Hayward Police Department headquarters where the jail is located.

HAYWARD, Calif. — The city of Hayward makes limited use of its city jail, but the chief of the Hayward Police Department still thinks it’s an important resource that can save the city money and officers time.

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, acting Hayward Police Chief Bryan Matthews presented the assessment of the jail facility, conducted by consulting firm Jensen Hughes, to the council. That assessment found there were several issues with the way the jail is currently being run, and Matthews highlighted three of the findings, including the fact that the jail is larger than needed.

The jail, which is located on the first floor of the Hayward Police Department Headquarters, has 36 beds with the capacity to hold up to 76 people, though the report states “there are rarely more than a handful of individuals in custody.” It’s technically a Type 1 jail, which allows a detainee to be held for up to 96 hours after arrest, but it functions as a temporary holding facility, where most people are released or transferred to the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin within 24 hours.

The report offers 10 recommendations for the city, of which three have already been implemented by the department, including starting to collect data and maintaining a supply of religious materials for people who are arrested. However, Matthews said it leaves the decision to convert the Type 1 jail into a temporary holding facility to the city.

“We are primarily running it as a temporary holding facility now and our intention is to continue doing that,” Matthews told the council. “To the extent that we can hold people no longer than 24 hours, we’re going to continue to do that.”

When a significant case arises, particularly when there are codefendants, Matthews said it is more advantageous to conduct interviews and collect evidence at the city jail. The cost to book someone at the county jail is cut from $515 per booking to $366 per booking if the Hayward police do the fingerprinting, photographing and data entry for the individuals themselves.

The intake process at the Santa Rita Jail can also be lengthy, taking at least one-and-a-half hours for a roundtrip. That can take longer if the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jail, refuses to accept someone after an initial medical review. In that case, Hayward police are required to drive back to Hayward to take the person to St. Rose Hospital for a medical evaluation before driving them back to Dublin.

The process can grow longer if it’s a busy night, with officers from around the county trying to book an arrestee.

That could impact police response times in the city since the department is short 44 full-time staff. It would also prevent the Hayward police from temporarily holding someone who might be publicly intoxicated.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.

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