Fifty faith leaders, representing religious communities of Malibu, Agoura Hills, Calabasas and Westlake Village, gathered at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station last Wednesday, Oct. 23, to hear updates from local law enforcement and meet other leaders from the area. Also in attendance were Malibu Mayor Karen Farrer and Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson.
“The Clergy Advisory Council is an inter-faith body of volunteer clergy, whose mission is to support our community in collaboration with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Malibu/Lost Hills Station,” according to documents provided by organizers.
The Clergy Advisory Council meeting was hosted by Chaplain Brian La Spada, pastor of Calvary Chapel Malibu, and featured remarks from the sheriff’s station’s new captain, Lt. Matthew Vander Horck, as well as presentations about faith community security and homelessness from sheriff’s deputies.
For many gathered, it was the first opportunity to meet Vander Horck, who was named the station’s new captain in August. It was also the first opportunity for many Malibu leaders to visit the station since the removal of Lt. Jennifer Seetoo from her post as Malibu liaison—notably, Seetoo’s name was still on the schedule distributed to clergy council members.
“My goal and my vision is impacting people’s lives and making a difference,” Vander Horck said during his initial statements Wednesday. He added that both sheriff’s deputies and faith leaders “affect people’s lives every day.”
Safety tips were shared, including things like staying alert and calling 9-1-1 if you have a concern or implementing basic security measures like alarms or locking doors. Phil Reeves, another chaplain for the station, circled back to security in his remarks: “Don’t be shy about calling if you think something doesn’t feel right—trust your instincts.”
Members of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority described ways churches, synagogues and temples can work with the department to bring aid to local homeless individuals, including a phone app called LA Hop designed to assist homeless people without generating police reports.
“Giving citations, arresting them, is not going to solve homelessness,” one speaker said. “It’s a revolving door.”