On a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Los Angeles
The action may be only a temporary set-back, however, since the swing vote was cast by termed-out Supervisor
Tuesday's vote came after advocates -- dozens of whom spoke at the Board of Supervisors' meeting -- argued that civilian oversight is the only way to hold members of the nation's largest Sheriff's Department truly accountable.
But a majority of supervisors agreed that they first want to focus on setting up the newly-created inspector general's office for the Sheriff's Department. They also pointed out that under current law, a civilian commission would not have authority over the elected sheriff.
"We can't pay enough attention to the Sheriff's Department, the inspector general or the sheriff himself," Ridley-Thomas said. "That's why we need help.... It's very practical. It's not ideological."
Yaroslavsky said the department has had multiple oversight bodies in the past, but their "ambiguous roles" contributed to "problems [in the department], which have now become a national embarrassment."
"The problem with the Sheriff's Department isn't that there is too little oversight; the problem is that there has been too little effective oversight," he said.
Also Tuesday, the board approved a plan for the structure, staffing and responsibilities of the inspector general's office.
Interim Sheriff John Scott -- who replace
But the supervisors objected, saying that would harm the inspector's independence. They instead approved a structure that would give the inspector general an attorney-client relationship with the board and not with the sheriff.
Inspector General Max Huntsman told the board he is still trying to negotiate "complete access" to department investigations into deputy-involved shootings and other issues.