Supervisors act to examine and reform Sheriff’s Department

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors today took strong action to bring greater oversight and accountability to the Sheriff’s Department, unanimously voting to establish a seven-member citizens’ commission to investigate allegations of abuse and corruption.

The commission would be tasked with reviewing the nature, depth and cause of inappropriate uses of force by deputies in the County jails and to return to the Board with recommendations for reforms.

The motion for a commission, sponsored jointly by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, charges the new commission with presenting its findings within 120 days of its first meeting.

In second unanimous vote, the Board also approved on a motion by Supervisor Gloria Molina, to implement existing recommendations by Special Counsel Merrick Bobb and the Office of Independent Review. The recommendations include but are not limited to: the installation of surveillance cameras at the Men’s Central Jail, the Inmate Reception center and the Twin Towers, elimination of steel-toed shoes, a revision of department policy to forbid striking inmates on the head and regular rotation of jail deputies between floors at the Men’s Central Jail and to other facilities at no less than six-month intervals.  The Board also approved an amendment by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to require the Chief Executive Office, the Internal Services Department and County Counsel to work with the Sheriff to facilitate implementation of the existing recommendations.

“These two motions are complementary,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “They are not in conflict and nor are they contradictory. Supervisor Molina’s motion calls for important and necessary steps to be made immediately, but the commission has a broader charge.

“It will not only examine past practices, it will offer the Board a roadmap to use as we move forward with reforms,” the Supervisor said.

Tuesday’s action by the board comes after report released last week by the Sheriff’s Department Office of Independent Review found that a code of silence among deputies has shielded abusive jailers and that those who break that code are subject to harassment by colleagues. The report found that eight deputies failed to report mistreatment of an inmate that was recorded on video. In another case, a deputy who reported wrongdoing received threatening phone calls, the report said.

Surviving the HEAT – Tips from L.A. County’s emergency survival program

The Second District is hot this summer.  That’s why staying cool is important to your health.  A list of L. A. County Cooling Centers is available here.

If you are planning to visit one of these Cooling Centers, it is advisable that you call in advance to make sure there is still seating available.  If a Cooling Center is not operational, check the list for another Cooling Center nearest you or call “2-1-1”.  Check with your local library when looking for a place to cool down.  They have great resources and plenty to read while you escape the heat. For further information on Heat Waves, click here.

If you plan to be outdoors, please take precautions to protect yourself from the sun and heat.

  • Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when the burning rays are strongest.
  • Reduce physical activity.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and light colored lightweight, loose-fitting clothes when you are outdoors
  • Avoid hot, heavy meals that include proteins.
  • Set your air conditioner between 75° to 80°.  If you don’t have air-conditioning take a cool shower twice a day and visit a public air conditioned facility.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you are not thirsty.  Avoid alcohol.
  • Use sun screen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 if you need to be in the sun.

Symptoms of dehydration and heat cramps include dizziness, fatigue, faintness, headaches, muscle cramps and increased thirst.

Click here for a list of the locations and hours of operation for the Cooling Centers in Los Angeles County or dial 2-1-1.

For a listing of Los Angeles City Cooling Centers go to www.lacity.org or dial “3-1-1.”

National Night Out – Lennox & Wiseburn

National Night Out, now in its 28th year, is a nationwide unique crime and drug prevention event led by law enforcement and organizations that have a common interest in creating a safe and secure neighborhood environment.  NNO has proven to be an effective, inexpensive and enjoyable program that neighborhoods benefit from.  Traditionally, neighbors would turn on their porch lights and hold night vigils to promote solidarity.   Today, neighborhoods are banding together to make a stronger stance against crime by having evening events with their local law enforcement agencies, businesses, non-profits and churches.

National Night Out is designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness
  • Promote and strengthen neighborhood spirit
  • Build law enforcement and community relationships

Download Above Wiseburn Flyer (as PDF document)

Download Above Lennox English Language Flyer (as PDF document)
Download Above Lennox Spanish Language Flyer (as PDF document)

Reentry Provider Background Form

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Says Probation Dept. Not Ready for Influx of Parolees from State


On Tuesday, July 12, the Board of Supervisors will discuss proposals from the Sheriff and Probation Department regarding which agency should supervise the parole of newly-released prisoners under AB 109, a new law that will shift the overseeing of thousands of parolees from the state to counties. Los Angeles County is expected to be charged with supervising more than 13,000 parolees beginning October 1.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the Probation Department would normally be the right agency to supervise the parolees; but due to current troubles at Probation, he proposed giving the Sheriff interim authority over the parolees.

“This year, the State of California is to release paroled felons to the supervision of counties as part of the Governor’s re-alignment program. This shift is set to occur just as Los Angeles County’s Probation Department has been found by the U.S. Justice to be dangerously troubled.

The dysfunction at Probation is so severe that I believe a majority of the Board of Supervisors would do the unusual by turning over parolees to the Sheriff’s Department. This speaks volumes.
A police officer’s job is to identify, investigate and arrest suspected criminals. A parole officer, by contrast, must prepare a person’s transition to society after incarceration. Some would argue combining the roles creates an obvious confusion of missions, if not an outright conflict of interest. A parolee’s trust and confidence in a parole officer is essential. Is it realistic to think a parolee will confide in a Sheriff’s deputy who has the authority to arrest him?

Only under the most strained of circumstances would I accept giving a police agency control over parolees. Sadly, the current crisis in the Los Angeles County Probation Dept. is such a circumstance. The Chief Probation Officer has not been able to effectively address the range of problems identified by the U.S. Dept. of Justice officials monitoring his department.
Sheriff Baca, meanwhile, has a track record of progressive leadership. I believe both society at-large and the parolees will be more reliably served under Sheriff Baca’s management while the Probation Dept. struggles to right itself.

This does not eliminate the fundamental systemic flaw of placing parolees under the supervision of a police agency. My support will be for a temporary arrangement allowing Sheriff Baca to oversee parolees, perhaps 12 months to 18 months. I propose the staff of the parole program be drawn from the approximately 200 probation officers who are currently facing layoffs. These probation officers could be assigned to the Sheriff’s department during the interim period. It is my hope that because they are not Sheriff’s deputies, and because their background and training is different, this would strike the appropriate balance.

The arrangement I propose is based on keeping a delicate balance. The Probation Department, despite being the appropriate agency to oversee parolees, is simply not up to the task at this time. Assigning parolees to the Sheriff’s Department is not an ideal choice – but at the moment, it’s the safest choice.”

LA Times Article Available here.