Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, and co-authored by Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell on measures to eradicate deputy gangs and create stronger civilian oversight and checks and balances over the Sheriff and Sheriff’s Department. The motion was voted on during the discussion of Item 26, Report on Understanding Subgroups within the Sheriff’s Department, by the RAND Corporation (RAND).
On March 12, 2019, the Board of Supervisors, directed the Inspector General, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission (COC), County Counsel, and all relevant stakeholders to complete a comprehensive study of these groups. On June 5, 2019, County Counsel contracted with RAND to conduct the study, which was issued on September 10, 2021.
“The RAND study confirmed what we’ve known for many years, that deputy gangs exist, even if the Sheriff says there are not any or tries to minimize their existence. Those that know best are the residents of our County, especially those families who have suffered at the hands of deputy misconduct, some who have said that these harms were inflicted on them by deputy gang members,” shared Chair Solis. “Due to the failure of the Sheriff to hold his own deputies accountable, this Board has had to take several initiatives to protect families from harm. There shouldn’t be a need for these actions, but unfortunately we have no choice when deputy gang members continue to engage in harm, intimidation, and harassment.”
In addition to providing further evidence of the continued existence of deputy gangs, the RAND study provided additional insight into their impact within and outside of the Sheriff’s Department and the significant institutional hurdles that prevent the Sheriff’s Department from taking meaningful action to address them. Among the RAND study’s findings is that—despite the long history of violence and division caused by deputy gangs—the majority of deputies still believe they are a positive force in the Department, and only 37 percent support prohibiting them.
“I’ve met with several families that have shared complaints about deputy involved gangs and excessive use of force, that has plagued LA County’s Sheriff’s department for decades. It’s clear this is a systemic issue that costs lives, public trust and millions of dollars,” shared Supervisor Mitchell. “We must assess the recommendations within this study to make the necessary changes to end the culture that allows for these gangs to exist within our law enforcement.”
The motion approved today directs the COC to review the RAND Study and any other prior reports and/or recommendations related to deputy gangs that it deems relevant and report back to the Board, in consultation with the Office of Inspector General, County Counsel, the District Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender, Office of the Alternate Public Defender, the Sheriff’s Department, and members of the public, with a tangible implementation plan for the Board to address the issue of deputy gangs and associated problems.
To view the full motion, click here.