In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Jacob Blake, the recent shooting of Dijon Kizzee in South Los Angeles, as well as the racialized violence endured at the hands of law enforcement towards communities of color, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas moves to increase law enforcement transparency and accountability in the investigation of the death of Andres Guardado—a move that will bolster an investigation into the recent shooting of Dijon Kizzee, and rebut a disturbing trend by LASD in thwarting independent oversight. The motion, authored by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas seeks to ensure that the Medical Examiner-Coroner and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) have the tools necessary to bring about greater accountability in the handling of investigations into Deputy-involved shootings.
“For far too long we have accepted the status quo—we haven’t sufficiently challenged law enforcement’s incessant demands that investigations remain shrouded in secrecy,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “This Board must not sit by and allow the County’s law enforcement department to entrench itself in traditional patterns of behavior that profoundly harm not only vulnerable communities but the entire justice system.”
In the motion, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urges the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner to conduct an inquest into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Andres Guardado or provide an explanation about why an inquiry is unnecessary. The motion also calls for a report back from the OIG on the feasibility of ensuring that any County task force charged with investigating police shootings, be overseen by a civilian public official to increase transparency; and on the feasibility of litigation against LASD for failing to allow oversight of police investigations.
“The County’s Sheriff’s Department’s refusal to comply with state law and permit monitoring of their investigations of themselves deeply undermines law enforcement credibility,” said Max Huntsman, Inspector General. “I strongly support efforts by County and State government to strengthen civilian oversight and overcome this unhealthy resistance to accountability.”
“The Sheriff’s Office under this administration has illegally avoided all attempts to move transparently in the investigation of Andres Guardado. Now at a time when the entire nation is calling for us to reimagine public safety and accountability, and with the shooting of Dijon Kizzee just last night, I applaud the leadership of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to hold this Department accountable and further calls for justice,” said UCLA Black Policy Project Executive Director, Isaac Bryant.
Consistent with State and County law, civilian monitoring with LASD is permitted. However, LASD has strongly and repeatedly resisted the efforts of public officials to conduct proper oversight, not only as it relates to Mr. Guardado’s killing but also as to multiple other violations by LASD personnel.
In 2018, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1421, the Right to Know Act. As a result of the bill, Penal Code section 832.7 was amended to require transparency in police shootings. Under the new law, reports must be made public unless a public agency can justify that an interest in secrecy is stronger than the public’s right to know.
“In this time when reform should bring more transparency rather than less, LASD insists that it should be trusted to investigate itself. Their lack of accountability will not be tolerated,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Oversight of this investigation is not just critical for ensuring accountability—it is legally mandated.”
In response to yesterday’s unanticipated announcement that the 2020 United States Census (Census) data collection deadline will now be shortened by more than a month, to September 30, 2020, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced an urgency motion at the Board of Supervisors meeting for immediate action to be taken to elevate the concerns of LA County to ensure a fair and accurate Census count.
Specifically, the motion directs the LA County Chief Executive Officer to send a 5-signature letter to the United State Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census (Bureau) and United States Congressional leadership expressing these concerns. It also directs County Counsel to monitor the Bureau’s guidance with data collection timelines and to file or join litigation in opposing the Bureau’s decision.
“One of the most important rights we have is our hard-won right to vote, a right integral to our democracy and directly related to the results of the Census. So we must make sure that we stand up for all to be counted,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “To be undercounted is to be underrepresented and to be underrepresented is to be under-funded—we cannot lose sight of what this means for LA County.”
On August 3rd, Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced that the Census would conclude Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) and in-person interviews on September 30th, instead of October 31st. This announcement came as a shock to local governments as the October deadline set for data collection was determined in April 2020 by the Bureau. This date was previously extended due to the persistent challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the data collection period is now being shortened for reasons unknown.
A complete and accurate Census count is crucial to allocating over $675 billion in federal government resources for residents in the United States. LA County’s vast and diverse constituency has historically been difficult to measure with many hard-to-reach populations, including people experiencing homelessness. Therefore, prudent action must be taken to ensure all residents are equally represented in all levels of government, which also impacts the adjustment of electoral districts.
“The County of Los Angeles is one of the hardest-to-count areas in the United States and we need to ensure that all of our residents are counted in the 2020 Census. Our diverse community deserves an accurate count to improve the quality of life for all residents,” said Koreatown Youth and Community Center Executive Director Johng Ho Song.
“When it comes to the Census, South LA’s numbers are extremely important to the County. The County of Los Angeles’s count is extremely important for the State of CA. When LA goes undercounted, the entire state loses—funding, representation and resources,” added Community Coalition President and CEO Alberto Retana. “That is why Community Coalition has been working so hard to encourage residents to participate in the 2020 Census. It gives us the chance to strengthen our public health infrastructure, the lack of which is being exposed by COVID-19 right now. Taking the Census is another way we can step up for each other, and our communities, during this pandemic.”
This shortened Census timeline follows a recent presidential memorandum excluding non-citizens from Census allotment, presenting more barriers for the fair allocation and equitable representation for Angelenos and United States residents.