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FBI investigates abuse allegations at San Bernardino County jail

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is cooperating with the FBI in a civil rights investigation over allegations that inmates have been mistreated at a jail facility, sheriff's officials said Friday evening.

The alleged abuse took place at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. According to a statement, on March 5 members of the department's command staff "received information regarding possible misconduct by department personnel ... and immediately launched an investigation."

As they began to examine the allegations, sheriff's officials learned that the FBI was already conducting an investigation.

Within a day, the Sheriff's Department and FBI "were in full cooperation in order to ensure a comprehensive investigation is completed," according to the Sheriff's Department statement. 

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the bureau is conducting an independent investigation into alleged civil rights abuses at the jail facility.

"We investigate whether the allegations meet civil rights statutes," she said. "The department has been cooperative."

As of April 8, three deputies assigned to the West Valley Detention Center no longer work for the department, sheriff's officials said. The department has declined to release their names.

The department is conducting its own internal investigation.

"I will not tolerate any misconduct by department personnel," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said in the statement. "These allegations are being taken very seriously, and this department is determined to get answers."

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