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Ventura County Responds To Lawsuit That Claims Muslim Woman Forced To Remove Hijab

A South Coast law enforcement agency is responding to a federal lawsuit that claims a Muslim woman was forced to remove her religious head covering when she was taken into custody.

Jennifer Hyatt filed a suit against the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office claiming she was not allowed to wear her hijab after she was arrested on a domestic dispute charge in Thousand Oaks in 2017. The charge was later dropped.

In a new statement, Sheriff’s Office officials say female deputies removed her hijab for safety and security reasons. They say it’s department policy to take items – such as scarves, shoelaces and belts – which can potentially be used to injure themselves or others.

Officials say video from a deputy’s body camera and from the jail camera system show contrary to the lawsuit’s claims, the way the hijab was removed was respectful.

But, officials note an accommodation should have been made and that the policy has been corrected.