Demand Accountability of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department
TAKE ACTION NOW
Thirty years after the beating of Rodney King, and after the Rampart scandal and corresponding reforms, the culture of racism and brutality in Los Angeles law enforcement has persisted. For decades, we have faced a crisis of deputy gangs among the ranks and management of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). Often adopting white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies and imagery, LASD deputy gangs have emerged in Black and brown communities, and members have hunted, framed, beaten, shot, and killed people of color for membership, better assignments, and prestige.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva has enabled deputy gangs and problem deputies to engage in greater misconduct and excessive force. From the moment he was elected, he sought to reinstate Carl Mandoyan, a known “Grim Reapers” deputy gang member who had been fired for beating up and stalking his ex-girlfriend. Villanueva has gone from denying the existence of deputy gangs to claiming that they are only harmless fraternities to then swearing he has already dealt with them.
Of course, none of Villanueva’s claims are true. In fact, from intimidating and harassing oversight officials to defying lawful subpoenas, Villanueva has relentlessly obstructed the systems of checks and balances designed to provide civilian oversight and supervision of the sheriff and LASD.
LASD deputy gangs are only a symptom of a pervasive culture in LASD of lawlessness, secrecy, and brutality. And Villanueva is also a product of this deep-rooted culture. When placed in the context of the administrations that preceded him, Villanueva’s hostility to oversight, transparency, and accountability, and his disinterest in stemming deputy violence and misconduct, including deputy gangs, is no outlier. The current administration is only the most recent illustration of the ways the County’s oversight structures come up seriously short and are largely powerless when a sheriff refuses to cooperate voluntarily.
The county can no longer tinker around the edges of significant structural reform of LASD. Send a letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors telling them you support a ballot measure that would amend the county charter to strengthen checks and balances and civilian oversight over the sheriff and LASD. The board should propose to the voters an amendment to the L.A. County Charter that will:
- Create a procedure to allow impeachment and removal of the sheriff
- Clarify the policy-making authority of the Board and the Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) to oversee and set policies for LASD to ensure the faithful performance of duties and compliance with the law
- Establish permanent, independent, and more robust civilian oversight of LASD