Supervisors approve settlement over Antelope Valley racial profiling

L.A. County supervisors OK settlement over Sheriff's Department's alleged racial profiling in Antelope Valley

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to approve a settlement with federal officials over allegations that sheriff’s officials systematically harassed minority residents in the Antelope Valley and targeted African Americans living in subsidized housing.

The five supervisors voted 4 to 1 in a closed-door session to approve a settlement that will require the Sheriff’s Department to comply with a series of rules on training, use of force and community engagement, and to be subjected to independent monitoring of its progress.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who cast the dissenting vote, declined to comment.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, whose district includes the Antelope Valley, voted in favor of the agreement along with the other three board members.

The county will also be required to pay compensation to residents whose rights were found to have been violated.

Full details of the settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice have not yet been made public.

Antonovich said in a statement that the county will be required to set aside $700,000 to pay aggrieved residents, with a maximum payment of $20,000 per claimant. The county will also pay $25,000 in penalties.

Antonovich pointed out that the compensation is much lower than the $12 million the Justice Department was originally seeking. He noted that the issues targeted by federal officials took place between 2006 and 2011, and said many reforms have already been made.

“This settlement is not an indictment of the men and women in uniform assigned to the Antelope Valley — but rather a recognition that improvement was needed which presented an opportunity to make the Antelope Valley a better place to live and work,” Antonovich said in the statement. “The community has acknowledged positive changes in policing services and improved relations and trust with the Sheriff’s Department over the past several years.”

Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who took office in December, issued a statement praising the agreement, which he said “enables the LASD to look to the future, rather than the past, as we build upon significant progress over the past few years and seek to strengthen the bonds of trust with the community we serve in the Antelope Valley.”

McDonnell said the department has already implemented about one-third of the measures that will be required under the agreement.

“I do not view this agreement as a set of mandates, but rather as a set of opportunities that will enable the LASD to enhance our knowledge, improve our training and raise the bar even higher in regard to our policies and practices,” he said.

A separate settlement relating to the county’s housing agency is still in the works and will probably include more money to compensate people who lost their housing assistance as a result of raids on Section 8 subsidized units in the Antelope Valley. Armed deputies often accompanied investigators looking for violations of housing rules.

County Housing Authority Director Sean Rogan declined to comment on the negotiations. A spokeswoman for the agency said it has ceased the practice of having investigators conduct unannounced compliance checks.

Follow Abby Sewell on Twitter at @sewella for more county news.

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