Media Firestorm Over LASD Tattoos Intensifies; McDonnell Still Looking For A Clue

The media uproar about LASD station tattoos has continued since the LA Times first reported on the issue last week (which we put into context here).

As reporter Maya Lau wrote on Friday, “some members of a Los Angeles County watchdog panel are calling on Sheriff Jim McDonnell to launch a thorough investigation into allegations of a secret society of deputies… The revelation this week that a deputy admitted to getting inked two years ago as part of a ritual within the Compton station has raised concerns that deputy cliques…have persisted despite the department’s reform efforts.”

This a week after the Department took a social media victory lap touting the “resurgence of Compton”, thanks to its happy partnership with the LASD. This after 31 guns are still missing from Compton City Hall…

The Times also posted a video of Deputy Samuel Aldama’s testimony in a May 2018 deposition where he was asked whether he harbored any “ill feelings toward African Americans”.  After nearly two minutes of silence he responded that he did. When asked to clarify, he backtracked, saying he hadn’t understood the question.

Pro Tip: The correct answer was “No”.  Or, if the honest answer had to be “yes”, the correct explanation was that having grown up in Compton, and having put your life literally on the line for people of all races within the Hub City, you were heartbroken at the violence you saw people subjecting their families and community to. You absolutely harbored ill will toward people who hurt their community, whatever their race. And that’s why you became and are proud to be a deputy sheriff.”

Under no circumstances is the correct answer to (in effect) “are you a racist?”: struggling for two minutes to answer before eventually conceding “yes”, followed by, “huh? I didn’t understand the question–let’s take a break”.

The LA Times Editorial Board wrote about the issue on Wednesday, observing that perhaps McDonnell should not take as much credit for reforming the LASD over the past four years as he has done:

“Now facing a tough reelection runoff, McDonnell must grapple with the allegations at the center of The Times story, and what they may say about the state of reform… In any other arena, a tattoo may be just a tattoo, but in the Sheriff’s Department it is a reminder of the bad old days and warning that those days may not be behind us. The prospect is disturbing, to say the least.”

Other major news outlets also jumped on the bandwagon (here, here and here).

Meanwhile, McDonnell continues on his four year quest for basic understanding of the organization he purports to lead and the skills necessary to lead it:

“I’m not somebody from a generation where tattoos are accepted the way they are today,” he told the Times. “I’m looking at what’s behind it. Is it just body art? Is it something that reflects well on our core values?”

Let us know when you figure that out, Jim…



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