'Asleep at the wheel'

'Asleep at the wheel'

Citizens panel says sheriff knew about jail problems and did nothing, as OIR calls for more oversight of deputy videotaping

By André Coleman 09/12/2012

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An independent watchdog group wants changes made to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s videotaping and interviewing procedures, which currently allow deputies to recast potentially damning use-of-force testimony and intimidate witnesses.

Meanwhile, a second report claims that the department has known for years about deputy cliques in the department and problems in the jails and has done nothing about it.

In the Office of Independent Review’s Tenth Annual Report on the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, OIR Chair Michael Gennaco recommends that deputies working as guards in Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles not be allowed to review videos of use-of-force situations before making statements describing those incidents.

Further, the report recommends that deputies accused of excessive force not be present when their accusers are being interviewed by sheriff’s personnel. 

According to the report released last Thursday, 60 county Sheriff’s Department employees — 40 of them sworn officers — were fired in 2011 for crimes ranging from unlawful sexual conduct with an inmate to insurance fraud. Fourteen of those deputies were charged with crimes. However, the report does not mention any instances last year in which a deputy was arrested for brutalizing a civilian or an inmate while on duty. Nor were there any arrests of deputies working in the jails, which have been the focus of most of the criticism leveled against the department in recent months and seems to be an area most in need of reform.

In another report released on Friday, the Los Angeles County Citizens Commission on Jail Violence reported that the department has known about problem deputy within the department for several years. The report states Undersheriff Paul Tanaka blocked efforts to address problems inside the jail. “This is a devastating account and confirms what we’ve been saying for years: deputies staffing LA County jails are out of control and Sheriff Baca has been asleep at the wheel,” according to a statement issued Friday by the ACLU of Southern California.

An October letter written to US Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller by Pasadena resident and former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, the Rev. Ed Bacon of All Saints Church and 23 others — including civil rights attorneys, public defenders and the Rev. James Lawson, a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. — calls for the FBI to investigate allegations of deputy-sanctioned physical and sexual brutality in county jails made public in an ACLU report the previous month.

In the report, a witness for the ACLU likened Los Angeles County jails to Nazi concentration camps, claiming inmates are routinely beaten, tasered and kicked by deputies.

Seven hundred video cameras have recently been installed in the jail. The department has argued that deputies should have access to the footage before they submit reports to their supervisors.


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Lord knows that they've got to get their story straight about why they were fearing for their life while an unnoticed video camera caught them cornholing some prisoner in the butt.



posted by DanD on 9/13/12 @ 06:39 p.m.

The abuse of citizens on the part of law enforcement does not end in the jails. Abuse of private citizens is rampant throughout the LASD at every level. We still have yet to understand the treatment of Mitrice Richardson by the LASD three years later. Why was she arrested? Why was she released with no means of caring for herself? Why did the detectives remove her body against the orders of the coroner's? Why are there no answers? Any why has the OIR protected the LASD?


posted by drronda on 9/13/12 @ 08:35 p.m.

As I have stated in previous articles regarding Mitrice, THE LAST PERSON to see her alive even as she was walking out of that LASD Lost Hills/Malibu station was a deputy sheriff.

Even as the video of Mitrice at that station was willfully withheld from the public (which includes her parents), we really don't broke-chain-of-custody know just how much of that recording has been altered, but it is worth a professional investigation, iow "Abby" NCIS style.

As far as her "chain-of-custody" remains are concerned, okay, just ask any LASD-independent forensic specialist exactly how a set of remains can be cleaned up in order to disguise or otherwise eliminate any residue evidence, and then test those remains for that kind of sanitizing. Pretending that law enforcers don't commit horrible sex crimes against the oppressed inarcerated is really disingenuous.


If this brand of an independent investigation is ever really accomplished and there is evidence of a cleanup, then there will also be evidence of a coverup. Mitrice is Pasadena's unsolved "Black Dahlia" murder.


posted by DanD on 9/13/12 @ 09:17 p.m.
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