A year after a citizens’ commission handed down an extensive set of recommendations for preventing abuse of inmates in the county’s jails, Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to fund many of the reforms.
The board unanimously voted to authorize $29.3 million for the first year of a three-year plan that includes hiring more supervisors to oversee deputies, expanding trainings, and installing more video cameras in the jails.
The changes are expected to cost $89.8 million over three years.
The Sheriff’s Department has faced federal scrutiny and a barrage of lawsuits over allegations that there has been a pattern of mistreatment of inmates.
The money approved Tuesday will go to hiring 130 staff members, including more supervisors in the jails, lieutenants to oversee use-of-force investigations, internal affairs and training staff, and to install more cameras in the jails to capture the actions of inmates and guards.
County Chief Executive William T Fujioka wrote that the additional personnel "will allow the Department to improve the professional development of staff, enhance the effectiveness of custody operations, and establish an oversight structure that will ensure that use of force and employee misconduct are thoroughly and timely investigated."
Floyd Hayhurst, president of the deputies' union, told the board that the county should also put resources into hiring more deputies.
"It stands to reason if you want more work done, you need more positions authorized for the people who actually do the work," he said.
The supervisors had also been slated to discuss a proposal to put a permanent citizens' advisory commission in place in the Sheriff's Department, but the matter was postponed. The proposal by supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina was introduced last month, but a vote was postponed when it became evident that a majority of the board would not support it. Some of the other board members said they thought putting in place an inspector general in the Sheriff's Department -- which is currently in process -- would be more effective in preventing abuses.
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