Please attribute the following statement to Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California:
Civilian oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been a long time coming, and we commend the Board of Supervisors for its work to date toward achieving this necessary goal. But the motion scheduled for a vote on Tuesday will fail to ensure that L.A. County receives the Civilian Oversight Commission it needs and deserves.Contact: Sandra Hernandez, 213.977.5247, firstname.lastname@example.org Ed Boyer, 213.977.5242, email@example.com
One need only consider the longstanding and serious scandals within the sheriff’s department uncovered over the last decade to realize the critical need for a truly effective Civilian Oversight Commission. Those scandals and abuses have convinced even the strongest opponents of civilian oversight that its time has finally come.
Sadly, the proposed model is among the weakest possible and shows the continuing resistance that is being exerted. The public must remain united and vocal to overcome this resistance. We strongly urge Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis to hold their motion and accept a meeting with those of us in the community pushing for meaningful and vigorous civilian oversight to further discuss our grave concerns.
While law enforcement could provide valuable perspectives to commission analyses, former law enforcement should not sit on the commission. A commission with former law enforcement members will deeply undermine its credibility with community members, many of whom are still reeling with the news of LASD’s far-reaching misconduct and corruption under former Sheriff Baca’s regime.
A truly effective commission would have disciplinary authority to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their actions. Given that this commission probably cannot have such authority, that is all the more reason it should have all other tools reasonably available to it, including subpoena power.
We urge the board to place a charter amendment on the ballot to put the question of subpoena power to voters rather than merely discussing whether to place a charter amendment on the ballot at some later date. Without subpoena power, the commission will be absolutely toothless to monitor department actions.
We recommend that the board provide full access by the commission and board to any confidential information relied upon by the Office of the Inspector General in its reports.
Finally, it is imperative that community organizations and members be heavily involved in developing the weighted system to cull applicants and that the selection committee follow the criteria as well.