Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ Statement on Release of Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence Report

Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence Chair Lourdes Baird

Now that the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence has completed its mission, we can be sure of one thing: The Sheriff’s Department cannot police itself.

That is why I will ask the board to make profound structural changes with regard to oversight of the department and create a system for permanent and independent citizen oversight of our jails.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, I will introduce a Board motion directing the County Counsel and the Chief Executive Officer to assess the viability of establishing both a Citizens Law Enforcement Commission and an Inspector General for the Sheriff’s Dept.

Last year I co-authored a motion for the creation of the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence (CCJV) with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Our goal was to obtain and analyze the data necessary to determine the full extent of the custody problems within the County’s jails. Today, CCJV released 77 findings in its nearly 200-page report. After more than a year of investigation, testimony, and sifting through over 35,000 pages of documents; the evidence of inmate abuse and jail mismanagement is clear and convincing. Now that we have the data, we cannot stop here.

New oversight is warranted and it needs to be more substantial and comprehensive. The change has to be structural because there are no easy remedies and shortcuts to accomplish the goal of fair and equitable treatment by those entrusted to provide public safety services. The CCJV report makes clear that the most robust change would be achieved by independent and consolidated oversight. We should not let another 20 years pass with a piecemeal and compartmentalized approach to public safety accountability. It is time to deal with the problems now, using a unified approach that achieves reform in L.A. County law enforcement, achieves constitutional policing and bolsters public trust.

None of the calls for change should be construed as a wholesale condemnation of the Sheriff’s Department. Indeed, I anticipate the full support of the Sheriff and the department for greater citizen involvement and consolidated oversight. The Sheriff has clearly stated his determination to right this ship, and I take him at his word. Furthermore, the men and women of the department deserve a process that will no longer permit a few bad apples to besmirch the thousands of deputies who perform bravely and admirably every day.

We cannot be timid about tackling these policing issues. There are a number of deputies who have failed the public. These are not isolated incidents. The report refers to a culture of violence. This culture was repeatedly overlooked by jail custody management and Department executives.

Plainly said, we must make sure that people in custody are not victimized by those charged with their supervision. That’s why we must steer the Sheriff’s Department in a new direction.

Increased civilianization of the jail custody staffing may be a way to decrease inmate violence. There are far too many Sheriff’s deputies who simply do not want to work in the jails but nonetheless are required to do so for the first five to seven years of their employment. By contrast, custody assistants are specifically trained for jail assignments and want to do this work.

The weight of the CCJV report will be measured by the manner in which those elected to maintain public safety move forward to address the problems and change the culture. Otherwise, the work of this Commission and staff will have been undertaken in vain.

Board offers $10,000 reward

At its meeting Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors authorized a $10,000-reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run driver responsible for killing 38-year old Jose Arreola and critically injuring his seven- year-old daughter Angelica. The incident occurred last April at the intersection of Santa Ana Boulevard and Watts Avenue in the unincorporated area of WIllowbrook.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Arreola family during this sad and difficult time,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “It is my hope that this reward will encourage witnesses and anyone with information to step forward to help bring closure to this family.”

On April 20, father and daughter were walking along the crosswalk near Angelica’s school, Ritter Elementary School, when the two were struck by a pearl-white Cadillac Escalade. The driver, who is described as a heavy set Hispanic male in his late 20′s to early 30′s, with short hair and a goatee, failed to yield to the Arreolas.

After striking the victims, the suspect fled the scene and drove westbound on Santa Ana Boulevard. The hit-and-run, which resulted in the death of Jose, has left Angelica in stable but critical condition. According to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, she suffered severe trauma to her head and has undergone brain surgery.

The 2000-2006 model Cadillac Escalade is believed to have sustained moderate damage to the hood, front grille, and right front bumper. Auto body repair shops and residents are urged to report any information.

The California Highway Patrol emphasizes that the immigration status of witnesses who come forward will not come under investigation and is urging anyone with information to contact the South Los Angeles Office at (310) 516-3355 or (323) 259-2010.

2012 start-of-summer Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization kicks off May 21

The 2012 start-of-summer Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization kicks off May 21 to help save lives by cracking down on those who don’t buckle up. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is joining with other state and local law enforcement officers to help save more lives by strongly enforcing seat belt laws around the clock. Seat belts are the most effective piece of life saving equipment on your car.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 nationally, 61 percent of the 10,647 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes overnight were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash, compared to 42 percent during the daytime hours.

“Too many drivers and passengers on the road at night are not wearing their seat belts, and it all too often ends in tragedy,” said Shaun J. Mathers, Captain of Risk Management Bureau’s Traffic Services Detail. “Our goal is to save more lives, so the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be out enforcing seat belt laws around the clock.”

Seat belt use saves thousands of lives across America each year and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is helping spread the word. NHTSA statistics show that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide.

Yet, too many motorists may need a tough reminder. In 2010, 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA, and 51 percent of them were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes.

Younger motorists and men are particularly at risk. Data shows that among teen and young adult passenger vehicle occupants in 2010, ages 18-34, who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 62 percent were not buckled up at the time of the crash – the highest percentage of any age group. The number jumps to 66 percent when just men in this age group are included.

While this year’s Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization runs from May 21 through June 3, motorists should know that officers are out enforcing seat belt laws year-round. Total costs of a first time ticket are at least $142.

Article courtesy of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Severed gas line burns on USC Campus

An independent construction firm employee suffered minor burns after a one-inch gas line broke and ignited outside the track stadium at USC. Just before 8 a.m. Firefighters arrived to 3470 South McClintock Avenue, to find a continuous flame erupting from the ground, over 10 feet in the air between Katherine B. Loker Stadium and Cromwell Field on the North end of USC campus. A total of 27 firefighters, including LAFD’s Hazardous material team, quickly surrounded the area, evacuated nearby individuals as a precaution, and strategically sprayed hose-lines, creating a “water curtain” around the perpetual flame to protect the nearby brick stadium wall.

Battalion Chief Mathis instituted a Unified Command, and worked in concert with Southern California Gas repair crews, and USC Public Safety teams. Gas to the broken line, which feeds the track stadium, was successfully shut off around 9:30 a.m.

One adult male, a construction worker who reportedly broke the line, was treated at the scene for minor burns but was not transported to a hospital.

The LAFD along with the Southern California Gas Company remind you that whether you’re planning to build a major development or just landscaping your yard, protect your safety and the safety of those around you by calling Underground Service Alert at 8-1-1, at least two business days prior to excavating.

Article courtesy of the Los Angeles Fire Department

Supervisors act to examine and improve realignment services

“The matter is urgent,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
The Board of Supervisors today imposed greater oversight on the County Probation Department, which has been struggling to provide services to the inmates recently released from state facilities who now must rely on local agencies for help. Last October, the state shifted responsibility for certain inmates to the counties. Since then, the state has released to local supervision more than 5,000 offenders who were convicted of non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual crimes. The Probation Department, which is charged with providing released inmates with rehabilitative services such as mental health and substance abuse counseling, housing and job training, has had little success in fulfilling that obligation. Since February, the department has referred only 60% of former inmates to services, of which only 15% actually have received treatment.

The Supervisors today called for more accountability from the department. Acting on a motion sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board unanimously called for staff to develop a feasibility plan to ascertain how best to expeditiously increase the number of released prisoners who receive rehabilitative services.

To ensure that this target is reached, as part of the motion, staff is directed to examine clear performance goals for both referring departments and agencies, locate referring County service providers, and ensure participation of community- and faith-based organizations.

Officials from the Probation Department told the Supervisors that significant progress already has been made. For example, 48% of those who need mental health services are now receiving treatment. Implementing AB 109, the state’s realignment program, has been a challenge, said Cal Remington, the department’s chief deputy, but Probation increasingly is mandating that the former inmates comply with orders to receive therapeutic and other services.

“Early on we found that many of these coming out with problems did not have a condition that allowed us to, in essence, mandatorily refer them,” Remington said. Now, he said, the department is implementing the use of low-level violations and sanctions on a case-by-case basis.

Representatives from several community-based organizations spoke in favor of the motion; however, some urged the County to resist creating a structure of mandates and resulting violations that could lead to the re-incarceration of returning prisoners.

“We think it’s a positive step,” said Kim McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition. She added that those returning often are hindered in their efforts to comply. The lack of a valid or government-issued identification card, without which they often cannot access educational, housing and health care services, presents an enormous hurdle for many attempting to comply with Probation’s orders.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas emphasized that having the department clearly spell out its guidelines is essential for a successful reentry scenario.

“The matter is urgent,” the Supervisor said. “If we do not see substantially more people receiving the treatment and services they need, no one will be well served; public safety will be undermined and the cycle of recidivism will continue unabated.

It is imperative, the Supervisor continued, that the County not duplicate the State’s abysmal recidivism rate; about 65% of former inmates return to prison within three years.

Supervisors act to examine and reform Sheriff's Department

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors 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.

Notice of $10,000 reward offered by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

It is always a tragedy when someone in our community is killed. It is even more tragic when the victim is a young person of only 16 years of age and the victim of a senseless shooting.

Thomas Riley, age 16, was such a victim. Thomas was shot and killed in front of an apartment complex in the 1700 block of West 105th Street, in Los Angeles, near the intersection of 105th and Western Ave.

Thomas Riley was hanging out in front of the apartment complex with friends when they were approached by two male blacks who asked “Where you from?” Such a question should not be a death sentence. Before anyone from the group could answer that they were not affiliated with a gang, one of the males pulled a handgun from his waistband and began firing at them. Thomas Riley was shot five times. Thomas was transported to Harbor – UCLA Medical Center. Thomas died as a result of his gunshot wounds.

Thomas Riley was an upstanding young man of good moral character. Riley was not affiliated with gang members, nor had he ever been in any legal trouble. At the time of his untimely death, he was doing one of his favorite things — working with his friends on his mini-bike. The shock and senseless murder of Riley has left his family devastated.

On August 16, 2011, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, at my request, approved a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Thomas’ murder.

CBS Outdoor Systems at the urging of Thomas’ father Mr. Anthony Riley, has graciously made available and assisted in printing four billboards requesting the public’s assistance in obtaining any information that may assist with the investigation.

To this date, the billboards have been placed throughout the community near the murder scene. The locations of the billboards are:

  • Western Ave and 98th street, Los Angeles
  • Western Ave and Century Bl, Los Angeles
  • Market Street and Hillcrest Bl, Inglewood
  • Manchester Ave and Denker Ave, Los Angeles

With your help, our community will remain safe and justice will be served.

(Sheriff’s Press Release is available by clicking here.)

Murder of Thomas Riley
Description and Date of Crime: Fatal Shooting of Thomas Riley – 02/27/2011
Location: 1700 block of West 105th St, Los Angeles
Reward Amount: $10,000

Notice is hereby given that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles has established a reward in the amount of $10,000 in exchange for information leading to the apprehension and/or conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of 16-year-old Thomas Riley, who was shot and killed on February 27, 2011, in front of a residence located on the 1700 block of West 105th Street in unincorporated Los Angeles. Any person having any information related to this crime is requested to call Detectives McElderry or Acebedo at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 and refer to Report No. 011-81937-0372-011.

The terms of the reward provide that:

  • The total County payment of any and all rewards shall in no event exceed $10,000 and no claim shall be paid prior to conviction unless the Board of Supervisors makes a finding of impossibility of conviction due to the death or incapacity of the person or persons responsible for the crime or crimes.
  • The County reward may be apportioned between various persons and/or paid for the conviction of various persons as the circumstances fairly dictate.

Any claims for the reward funds should be filed with the Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors, 500 West Temple Street, Room 383 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Los Angeles, California 90012, Attention: Thomas Riley Reward Fund. For further information, please call (213) 974-1579.

Si no entiende esta noticia o si necesita más informacion, favor de llamar a este numero (213) 974-1579.

Information Courtesy of  Please check this site for updates.