Unexpected change made at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station

Captain Jennifer Seetoo. Acorn Newspaper.

In an unforeseen move, Lt. Jennifer Seetoo has been promoted to captain of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. The well-regarded 22-year veteran had filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department claiming sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the department after she was denied an earlier promotion in 2019. 

Seetoo was given what’s known as “freeway therapy” when she was transferred from the Lost Hills station near her Agoura Hills home to the West Hollywood station. Seetoo was well-liked in the Malibu community and highly visible at nearby events. 

Jump Photo Photo courtesy Surfrider News
Photo courtesy Surfrider News.

She originally arrived at the Lost Hills station on Nov. 4, 2018. Her first week on the job was tumultuous as she was promoted to acting captain the very next day after Josh Thai took a medical leave. In the next few days she would lead the station through two major disasters: The Borderline shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7, 2018, and then the very next day, the Woolsey Fire broke out. Evacuations from the fire lasted a week; repopulation and recovery took even longer. In 2019, she was named by State Sen. Henry Stern as his district’s Woman of the Year.

In her short time as the Malibu liaison at the Lost Hills Station, Seetoo came to the position after the previous liaison, Lt. James Royal also filed a lawsuit against the department. Royal claimed mistreatment by sheriff’s officials after he was vocal with his concerns about multiple reports of gunfire at Malibu Creek State Park. Royal says the LASD ignored his concerns that a potential gunman was on the loose in the Santa Monica Mountains near the park, where there were reports of burglaries and shootings. Eventually, the crimes were tied to the murder of Tristan Beaudette, who was shot while camping with his two young daughters at Malibu Creek State Park campground in 2018.

Royal’s lawsuit claims he was also given “freeway therapy” and “scapegoated by the department,” led by LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. 

There have been a number of leadership changes at the Lost Hills station, which is contracted by the cities of Malibu, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills, and Westlake Village. After Royal and Seetoo left, Lt. James Braden was named Malibu liaison, but he is now on medical leave. Acting captain Joseph Fender served, but with Seetoo returning, the department has not clarified his new position. Lt. Chad Watters is the current Malibu liaison.

Capt. Seetoo was scheduled to return to the station Wednesday, May 11. At this time, the LASD has not commented on either the lawsuit or Seetoo’s promotion, only confirming her return as captain.

The Malibu Times has not been able to confirm if Seetoo’s lawsuit has been settled or not, because Seetoo’s name was up for consideration when the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Government recommended Seetoo for captain at a recent meeting. 

The city managers of Malibu, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Calabasas and Hidden Hills were able to meet with candidates, including acting captain Joseph Fender.

“Jennifer is a wonderful person to have running the station,” Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti told The Malibu Times. “We are so delighted that she was selected. She’s a good choice and I’m sure we’ll be very happy with her. I’m sure she’ll knock it out of the park.”

Seetoo was out of town and unavailable for comment. She starts Wednesday May 11.