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Inspector general job to be studied

Supervisors call for additional oversight of Sheriff’s Department

Posted: October 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Los Angeles County supervisors took a step toward gaining more oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during their Tuesday meeting.

The Board of Supervisors approved Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ motion to conduct a study examining the feasibility of establishing an Office of the Inspector General. Creating such an office was one of the suggestions made in the Los Angeles County Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence report, which was released last Friday.

Ridley-Thomas, whose district takes in southwest Los Angeles and surrounding communities, cited recent allegations of use of force and abuse by sheriff’s deputies in county jails as a reason to establish additional checks on the department.

Tony Bell, a spokesman for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, whose district includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said Antonovich welcomes changes that have been tested for effectiveness and legality.

“He wants to adopt the (recommendations) that make sure to restore the public’s trust in the jail system,” Bell said.

The five supervisors, who are elected to govern the county, already have some checks on the Sheriff’s Department, which is headed by another elected official. For example, the board established an Office of Independent Review in 2000 to oversee disciplinary investigations within the department.

But oftentimes that office is not truly independent, according to Alex Johnson, a spokesman for Ridley-Thomas.

While it is unclear what the exact structure of the Office of the Inspector General would be, Johnson said, it would need to be robust enough to have broad authority and oversight. “Looking at what happened today and looking at the board’s move to study, we view that as a step in the right direction,” Johnson said.

The motion originally included the creation of a Citizens’ Law Enforcement Commission that would make members of the public a permanent fixture in departmental oversight. That plan was tabled for the time being.



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