Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted (3-2) to create a civilian oversight commission to oversee the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. ACLU SoCal and other community organizations sent in letters and made statements in support of civilian oversight.

We believe that such a commission should:

  • Create safeguards against abuse and corruption by top brass;
  • Check the L.A. sheriff's autonomy;
  • Hold public hearings on violence and corruption in the Sheriff's Department; and
  • Ensure that LASD is complying with the law.

We urge the working group, which the board charged with planning and structuring the commission, to evaluate what powers and authority the civilian oversight commission can have under current law, as well as what it ideally should have. For example, for the commission to be most effective, it should have subpoena power.

Should the working group find that the board does not have the authority under current law to create a civilian oversight commission with subpoena power, or other authority the working group believes is important for an effective commission, the board should lobby Sacramento to give it the authority it needs to create a civilian commission that will provide for appropriate oversight and accountability of the Sheriff’s Department.

Esther Lim is jails director at the ACLU of Southern California. Follow ACLU_SoCal.