The ACLU of Southern California, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Japanese American Citizens League and NAACP Legal Defense Fund are urging the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Lee Baca to retain crucial information regarding officer misconduct. At issue is how long the County will retain data tracking employee performance on its 'Personnel Performance Index' (PPI). This agenda item is scheduled to be discussed at 11:00 am Tuesday, December 21 before the Board of Supervisors.
The PPI is the Sheriff's Department's master system for keeping track of employee performance. As County Special Counsel Merrick Bobb has explained, the PPI is 'a repository of powerful data' regarding complaints of officer misconduct. It was set up to fulfill the 1992 recommendation in Judge Kolts' 1992 report that the Sheriff's Department set up a computerized tracking system to report data on employees' use of force, citizen complaints, administrative investigations, lawsuits, and disciplinary history.
Tuesday's agenda item was carried over from last week's Board of Supervisors meeting, as the result of a disagreement between Sheriff Baca and Special Counsel Bobb regarding how long information should be kept on the PPI profile. As expressed in a report issued last month, Bobb's office was 'concerned and alarmed ... because the LASD is currently considering backtracking on the PPI and the key Kolts commitments....' Bobb has urged that information regarding founded complaints of a serious nature (including sexual harassment, discrimination, and misuse of force) be kept on the PPI profile indefinitely, and that other founded complaints be kept on the profile for at least 10 years.
The civil rights groups will urge that Bobb's recommendations be followed, so that Sheriff's Department officers may be held accountable. 'The PPI was set up to create a mechanism by which the Sheriff's Department can track the performance of its officers, including those who may present a danger to people in the community,' according to ACLU Staff Attorney Dan Tokaji, who will testify before the board on Tuesday. 'It is essential that this system be kept strong, and that information regarding complaints against deputies be rigorously maintained. The recent scandal at LAPD's Rampart Division demonstrates the disastrous consequences of allowing officer misconduct to fester unchecked. The Sheriff's Department must not be allowed to backtrack on its commitment to keep its eye on officers who may present a danger to the community or to their fellow officers.'