Civilian oversight commission proposed to monitor LA County Sheriff's Department

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new report released Monday calls for a civilian oversight commission to watch over the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The department has recently come under fire for allegedly using excessive force at county jails. The independent group would look at complaints from the community.

Allegations of violence and mistreatment of inmates in L.A. County jails have been highly publicized and even led to the resignation of former Sheriff Lee Baca.

The county has made some changes: hiring a new inspector general, Max Huntsman, to oversee deputy-inmate relations.

But the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence, a group made up of supporters of inmate civil rights, wants someone to oversee the inspector general.

"Max Huntsman's role is to be the auditor and the investigator, and I think that's necessary, and I think we need to really bolster his leadership, and we need a separate civilian oversight commission," said Patrisse Cullors, founder of the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence.

So the coalition presented county leaders with this proposal: It recommends a new nine-member civilian oversight commission, an independent group that would review public complaints about the agency.

"We must answer the question: Who will protect us from our protectors? And the answer is in this excellent proposal," said Reverend Cecil Chip Murray, a former member of the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence.

The report by the UCLA School of Law International Human Rights Clinic proposes the review board direct the functions of the office of the Inspector General and prioritize complaints and input from communities directly impacted by sheriff violence.

"Creating this type of a credible body will restore the relationship that we must have between our community and our sheriff's department," said Miriam Krinsky, attorney and former director of the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors would appoint five members. The others would be appointed by local criminal justice officials and community organizations. Board members would serve five-year terms.

The sheriff's department did not respond to Eyewitness News requests for comment on the proposal.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas already has a motion in the works for a civilian oversight committee, and Supervisor Gloria Molina supports it, but they need one more supervisor to bring it to a vote.

The coalition wants the supervisors to consider its plan.

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