LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles District regulators approved a series of requests on Tuesday to induce Sheriff Alex Villanueva to be more transparent and cooperative with the Inspector General's investigation into fatal shootings by MPs.
"LA County has been facing an epidemic for years: law enforcement systemic violence, brutality, and racism," said supervisor Hilda Solis. "We saw too many members of our color communities who were killed by law enforcement agencies and saw how they did it Authorities subsequently conducted their own investigations into these matters.
"The recent riots at national and local levels underscore the public's deep distrust of law enforcement agencies. This distrust is compounded by the lack of transparency in the conduct of these investigations in these cases."
Solis’s request to ask the sheriff to release evidence of fatal shootings of alternates as soon as possible was accepted. The application also requests the department to give the OIG immediate access to all related records, and the sheriff is asked to provide a written justification if video evidence is not released or the autopsy results are placed in a safety stop. In the application, the department was also asked to "re-use" its information office to comply with the transparency laws.
"As someone who really believes in public security, I think it's more important than ever to focus on transparency," said supervisor Kathryn Barger. “It is unfortunate that we must continue to ask that this OIG be allowed to monitor the department that the office has been set up to monitor.
"By the way, that is older than the sheriff who is now in this office. It goes back to … Sheriff Baca and also under Sheriff McDonnell," she said. "We have had several deputy shootings recently without any transparency to the public."
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said that the board of directors did not rush the verdict if MPs kill people, but requested an investigation outside the sheriff's department. The independent investigation is essential for public confidence in the results.
"Anything that tries to cancel the independent investigation option stinks of cover-up," said Ridley-Thomas. "This is exactly what we want to avoid … we have to keep pushing this case forward. This sheriff must abide by the law."
In his comments to the board, Villanueva seemed to reject the independence of Inspector General Max Huntsman and also suggested that the board itself should be subject to supervision.
"I support the concept of supervision as a whole, but it must be independent supervision and the efforts of the board of directors lag far behind independence," said Villanueva. "I would support an Inspector General that the general public voted on so that he was not committed to your political interests."
Ridley-Thomas also suggested expanding a unit within the Public Defenders Office to track misconduct and use of force by law enforcement officers across the county.
"The epidemic of the shooting of unarmed people by the police is a relentless outrage that has rightly sparked a much bigger discussion about the two goals of promoting public security and investing in community welfare," he said.
The board directed Sachi Hamai, the general director of the county, to present a plan to expand and finance the unit within 30 days.
The board also committed to advancing a probation commission, which was first proposed in 2017 and approved last October. The unit is set up within the OIG.
"We are holding a national discussion on the importance of effective supervision and accountability in our criminal justice system, and that must also apply to our probation system," said supervisor Janice Hahn. “As the probation department changes fundamentally, we need to put this supervisory board into operation so that it can begin the important work to ensure that the young people in our care receive the best possible care and support as they work to regain their lives on the right way. "
The application also instructed staff to immediately start recruiting an executive director for the Commission.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)