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Baca says jail violence down significantly

Posted: February 19, 2013 6:42 p.m.
Updated: February 19, 2013 6:42 p.m.

Recorded incidences of violence in Los Angeles County jails have fallen substantially since 2007, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Tuesday.

Incidents of the use of significant force by deputies in the county jail system dropped 67 percent between 2007 and 2012, Baca told members of the Board of Supervisors.

Baca’s update on jail violence follows a report issued in September by the seven-member Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence calling for 60 reforms in the operation of the county jails to deal with excessive use of force.

Formation of the commission followed reports in 2011 that federal authorities were investigating allegations of deputy abuse of inmates.

To bolster his claims of improvement, Baca offered statistics that showed from Jan. 1 to Jan. 19 in 2007, there were 62 reported use-of-force incidents in jails across the county.

That number would climb steadily the next two years, peaking at 72 reports of force during that same time period in 2009.

Since then, however, there has been a mostly steady decrease in use-of-force reports, bottoming out at 20 such reports from Jan. 1 to Jan. 19 in 2012.

As of Jan. 22 this year, there have been 32 reports of force in county facilities, according to statistics from the Sheriff’s Department.

This includes two incidents that were classified as uses of “significant force,” or actions that can result in significant inmate injuries.

The majority, 23, of incidents recorded so far this year are classified as non-injury incidents.

There were 478 incidents of force recorded in 2012. Almost half of those were for significant force, according to statistics.

As part of the continuing effort to curb violence in county jails, the Sheriff’s Department continues to implement the citizens’ commission’s recommendations aimed at reducing uses of force in county jails, officials said Tuesday.

As it stands, the Sheriff’s Department has fully implemented 26 of the 60 reforms recommended by the commission.

These recommendations cover a wide array of topics, including use of force, management, discipline, oversight, culture, personnel and training.

The Sheriff’s Department has also partially implemented another 16 recommendations and begun work on 17 others, according to Richard Drooyan, who is overseeing implementation of the recommendations.

Drooyan estimated that every recommendation that does not require significant new financial resources will be put into place within the next 30 to 60 days.

“What needs to be done going forward is there needs to be a robust internal services command to make sure the department is adhering to its policies and procedures, as well as the recommendations of the commission,” Drooyan said.

There are still two recommendations the Sheriff’s Department has yet to begin work on: The creation of a single data system to monitor inmate complaints against deputies and the hiring of additional supervisors in the department.

Baca said both of those recommendations require additional funding from the county before they can be put into place.
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