A Sheriff in trouble

The management of the Sheriff’s Department of Los Angeles leaves much to be desired, casting doubt on the credibility of this public agency.

A report from the Office of Independent Review paints a worrisome picture where a code of silence among Los Angeles County prison guards covers up acts of violence against inmates, and one in which deputies who want to report wrongdoing are retaliated against.

This report comes after witness testimonies obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union concerning abuse of inmates, and an ongoing investigation by the US Department of Justice into alleged harassment of Latino and African American residents of subsidized housing particularly in Palmdale and Lancaster.

Another questionable matter is Sheriff Leroy Baca’s interpretation of, and his enthusiasm for, the Secure Communities program, which has resulted in the deportation of people without any criminal record.

All of this creates a crisis of confidence and brings Baca’s leadership into question.

In the course of his administration, the Sheriff has distinguished himself by his rare sensitivity to the need for prisoner rehabilitation and to factors, such as poverty and a lack of education, that contribute to crime. Nevertheless, this year’s developments have been discouraging and have damaged the public’s image of the Sheriff’s Department and their confidence in it.

We believe that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors should get involved in this matter and make sure that the proper steps are promptly taken, like for instance the emplacement of more cameras in the prisons, along with other measures, to restore the general confidence in the Sheriff’s Department.