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33rd Semiannual Report on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released

Posted: October 7, 2013 12:34 p.m.
Updated: October 7, 2013 12:34 p.m.

(Los Angeles, CA, October 7, 2013) – Today, Special Counsel Merrick Bobb releases his 33rd Semiannual Report on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The Report examines the canine program and the Department’s Education Based Discipline program.

Since our last Semiannual Report was released in May 2013, there have been visible improvements in the Department. Shifts in command staff may have contributed to the improvements. While we are heartened by these improvements, this Report’s findings show that the Department still faces difficulties in its canine program. Also, the LASD at times fails to mete out appropriate discipline.

In regards to the canine program, the Report strongly recommends the Department reduce the number of overall dog bites and the bite ratio (number of total bites / number of total apprehensions), a metric in place to gauge the canine unit’s use of force and performance. Since our last review of LASD’s Canine Services Detail, the bite ratio has been slowly rising and remaining higher than 20 percent. Additionally, we commented on the disparate amount of bites of African Americans and Latinos by LASD canines compared to other racial groups. For example, in the first six months of 2013, 100 percent of all canine bites were on African American or Latino suspects. This is a troubling and unacceptable figure. While we make several recommendations to improve the unit, we are heartened that Lieutenant Bruce Chase’s leadership may be contributing to a recent reduction in the bite ratio (for 2013) and new policy recommendations by the Department.

The examination of the Education Based Discipline (EBD) program has led to the conclusion that the program is overbroad and overused. The retraining of LASD personnel found to have behaved out of policy is a benefit to the Department, but supplementing unpaid suspension with classwork undermines the effort to adequately sanction and prevent future misconduct. Although Department changes will soon discontinue the practice, many unreasonable use of force allegations were assigned EBD coursework in place of suspension—an inadequate response to this serious misbehavior. We believe that “Sexual Harassment” and “False Record” charges should be added to the category of sustained allegations that prohibits the use of EBD. This chapter also elucidates on the EBD process, surveys its background, and places this disciplinary practice into the context major events involving the Department.

Our hope is that our recommendations are considered by LASD and that the public has a better understanding of these two critical programs.

The Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) is a non-profit organization that, in cooperation with monitors, law enforcement executives, civic and government officials, community groups, and other interested constituencies, aims to strengthen police oversight so as to advance effective, respectful, and publicly accountable policing.

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