LOS ANGELES (AP) — The embattled Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is under fire once again, this time in a scathing 70-page report by a special prosecutor tasked with investigating secret groups, or gangs of deputies, who have operated within the agency for decades.
The Civilian Oversight Commission report condemned the cliques, whose members commit «egregious misconduct» such as using excessive force and threatening colleagues, as a «cancer» that must be banned immediately. He also accused the union that represents sheriff’s deputies of failing to stop gangs and protect suspected members.
The report says that while the groups may have started decades ago with «charitable intent,» they have evolved into gangs of deputies «whose members not only wear gang symbols, but also engage in criminal and gang-like behavior directed against the public and other members of the Department. members”, the indicated report.
“They create rituals that value violence, such as recording all officer-involved shootings in an official ledger,” the report continued, “celebrating with ‘shooting parties,’ and empowering officers who have shot a community member to add embellishments to your common gang tattoos.”
Sheriff Robert Luna said in a statement Friday that he was elected in November to «bring new leadership and accountability to this Department» and thanked the commission for its work, but stopped short of committing to an immediate ban on cliques.
“The vast majority of Department personnel are dedicated, hard-working professionals who are committed to humbly serving the community,” Luna said. «We look forward to working with the Civilian Oversight Commission and the Inspector General on this in the future.»
Luna announced last month that he was creating an Office of Constitutional Oversight to root out gangs of deputies, enforce consent decrees and ensure department policies and procedures uphold the constitutional rights of the public. The office will be led by former federal prosecutor Eileen Decker and will be staffed by attorneys, investigators and auditors.
Luna defeated incumbent Alex Villanueva last fall to become the county’s 34th sheriff. He vowed to usher in an era of integrity and collaboration after his predecessor’s tenure was marred by clashes with other public officials and allegations that gangs of deputies ran amok inside the agency.
Like street gangs, attached gang members identify with code names, such as Banditos, Executioners, Regulators, Spartans, Reapers, Wayside Whities and 3000 Boys, according to the report. Members often sport matching tattoos and use language and gestures associated with street gangs.
The Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs Association, the union that represents more than 8,000 sheriffs, said in a statement that it «has always been a willing partner in helping the department improve its performance and build public trust; deal with culture department is no different.»
The union «does not condone behavior that is illegal or intentionally violates the standards of modern professional policing,» Vice President Richard Pippin said in the statement. «[Our] Members are hard-working law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect others, and we hope that under Sheriff Robert Luna, ALADS can be actively involved in helping improve the department’s ability to create a Los Angeles County. safer».