Two Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors wants to create an oversight commission to provide more outside scrutiny of the Sheriff’s Department.
According to their motion, Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina want to create the new commission in response to criminal and civil probes launched against the department over allegations of deputy abuse inside the county’s jails.
“The dual federal investigations of the Sheriff’s Department confirm that a higher level of scrutiny, inquiry and public accountability is an imperative,” the motion reads.
The supervisors cited “continued allegations of excessive force, significant litigation costs and a moral imperative to ensure constitutional policing.”
The Sheriff’s Department is already recognized as a leader in civilian monitoring, including two nationally known watchdogs. A county commission created to examine jail violence, however, found that more could be done, and the department would benefit from the creation of an inspector general’s office.
If an oversight commission is created, it is expected it would not preclude the ongoing efforts to install an inspector general.
Sheriff Lee Baca’s spokesman said, “The devil is in the details,” but the sheriff generally welcomes outside scrutiny. Baca’s agency has been beset by allegations of abuse in its jails and other misconduct by deputies. Baca has responded with sweeping reforms aimed at curbing bad behavior and improving supervision.
The motion acknowledges the Board of Supervisors has limited authority over the elected sheriff but said “the board has the authority to establish an independent advisory oversight commission to review, study, report and make recommendations on the operations of the LASD.”
If the motion passes as currently written, each of the five supervisors would appoint one member to the commission. The commission would be staffed, funded and provided office space by November of this year.