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Calls for civilian oversight panel of L.A. County Sheriff's Department

September 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local activists are pushing the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to create a civilian oversight panel for the sheriff's department. Supervisors want to hold off -- at least for now.

About 30 people rallied in front of the L.A. County Administration Building, demanding that county supervisors create an independent civilian review board that would oversee the sheriff's department.

Inside, county supervisors debated the issue.

"We need a citizens commission," said L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina.

County Supervisors Gloria Molina and Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas are backing a motion that would create a civilian review board.

"We think this motion is necessary to enhance accountability and to achieve structural reform," said Molina.

"When you hear some of the things that some of these deputies have done, and how we need to continue to pay them while we're investigating for a year or two years, maybe three years, it is shameful," said Molina.

But other supervisors were dubious about the proposal.

"The Jail Violence Commission considered among other things the creation of a citizens commission. They rejected it," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "They did not recommend it."

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca was at Tuesday's county supervisors meeting, but he did not specifically discuss the proposed civilian review board proposal. Outside the meeting, he didn't have much to say regarding the idea.

"I don't know, I don't have any real comment about it," said Baca.

As for criticisms launched against his department, Baca said "Whoever says whatever they're going to say, they're going to say what they're going to say, that's the freedom of speech."

Other sheriff's officials say there is already enough oversight, which includes the Office of Independent Review.

"We need adequate resources to recruit, train and deploy enough deputy sheriffs to keep the jails safe and to properly protect Los Angeles County residents and businesses," said L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy George Hofstetter. "It's really that simple."

In the end, county supervisors postponed taking any action on the creation of a review board. They said they will revisit the issue in three weeks.


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