LA Times Takes Aim at LASD Misconduct and Peace Officer Bill of Rights

The Los Angeles Times has published four hard-hitting articles in the last three days taking examining misconduct by Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs, taking square aim at changing California’s police officer privacy laws.

It is unclear whether the Times has made this a priority by itself or whether it is being secretly encouraged by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who has been angling to undermine the Peace Officer Bill of Rights for years. McDonnell has been unsuccessful in his quest under existing law, so perhaps he’s going about it another way. After all, it was less than a year ago that PPOA President Brian Moriguchi called for an investigation into whether Sheriff McDonnell or his “Constitutional Policing” or media handlers intentionally and illegally leaked personnel information to the Times(Was this crime investigated?)

Here is a good legal analysis of the issues.

Then again, some of those accused of misconduct are part of McDonnell’s own command staff, who have apparently been granted grace not afforded to ordinary deputies.

On the other hand, it’s also unclear whether the Times is finally revisiting McDonnell’s absurd claim, and the Times’ prior agreement, that he has single-handedly engineered a “sea change in culture” within the LASD despite his deep unpopularity within the organization.

Here are the articles the Times has come out with since Thursday:

Thursday: An L.A. County deputy faked evidence. Here’s how his misconduct was kept secret in court for years

Thursday: You’ve been arrested by a dishonest cop. Can you win in a system set up to protect officers?

Friday: This L.A. sheriff’s deputy was a pariah in federal court. But his secrets were safe with the state

Saturday: Why do some L.A. sheriff’s deputies have matching skull tattoos? It’s a question Compton residents have been asking for years

*          *          *

LASD.News’ Opinion: We don’t know whether officer privacy laws / the Peace Officer Bill of Rights needs to be changed or not. As easy as it is to get information about people these days, and with a bloody history of officers being followed or confronted at their homes, there are certainly safety reasons to preserve POBR.

While the Times has identified many cases of real or alleged misconduct it would have liked to know about, and defense attorneys would have liked to know about–we don’t think it has established that the prior misconduct was actually relevant in the subsequent cases. For example, in the first story, the Times cites many lawyers and criminal suspects who would have been glad to use the deputy’s prior misconduct to angle for a lighter sentence or dismissal, when their actual guilt and the evidence in their cases does not seem to be in doubt.

As a journalistic and opinionated outfit ourselves, we understand the Times’ desire for access to officer personnel files. (Are journalists offering up their personnel files, too? Will LASD “executives” be wearing body cams?) But we are not yet convinced that the desired transparency will benefit anyone other than reporters who want to tell interesting stories, criminals who want to get out of jail, and the defense attorneys who want to help them. We look forward to the Times’ editorial board’s big reveal as to what exactly they are proposing.

Everyone makes mistakes in their life and career. While police officers have tremendous public trust placed in them and misconduct should be dealt with, criminals and their attorneys are looking for whatever will establish reasonable doubt in the least intelligent member of a jury. Or suggest to a busy deputy district attorney that a slam-dunk case will become a hassle and should be dismissed or pled.

Allowing criminals, defense attorneys and reporters to go on fishing expeditions through officers’ past and cherry-pick tidbits that benefit their own agendas will have many consequences which should be fiercely debated.

 

One thought on “LA Times Takes Aim at LASD Misconduct and Peace Officer Bill of Rights”

  1. This a very complex issue of accountability and transparency. Anyone who has worked in the Sheriff’s department for more than one day understands that an investigation and justice is handled according to the agenda and desired outcome.

    There are many well-documented cases, made public, and most not, where the Sheriff’s Gestapo, also known as ICIB and IAB, have destroyed/falsified evidence to help or injure a deputy. They have coached witnesses to say what the need the witnesses to say, either to help or injure a deputy. They have promised witnesses cash settlements, green cards, a lighter sentence, in exchange for testimony against deputies. They manipulate statements, facts, and evidence to present a false narrative, according to their agenda, and they do it in the open as if people were stupid to not see the truth. (The great majority of these cases dismissed, not guilty verdicts, discipline reversed)

    Although most of the time the alleged possible misconduct may affect guilty or not career criminals, the JUSTICE system should not be a weapon to destroy people’s lives, whether innocent or guilty, or whether, career criminals or not.

    Having seen firsthand misconduct ordered and carried out under the current regime against deputies, where many deputies have been falsely accused and prosecuted for political gain, as much I dislike the possible reasons why the LA Times people do what they do, I must agree that some serious debate and changes are needed to equalize justice.

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