LOS ANGELES – The Civilian Oversight Commission called Tuesday for further review of the sheriff’s internal investigations process given a spike in the number of inactivated disciplinary proceedings.
Department policy states that “all investigations should be completed” and also that “in most circumstances, it is in the best interest of the department to continue an investigation regardless of whether or not the subject resigns or retires and/or the complainant withdraws their complaint.”
But the department’s memo explaining why it had inactivated so many investigations stated that “a fair and balanced disciplinary process” requires that “as new information arises” it is sometimes in the best interest of the employee and the department to inactivate the case.
Commission Chair Patti Giggans said that was a problem.
“The most egregious thing any institution, any employer can do, is to not follow their own written personnel policy,” Giggans told her colleagues.
The department inactivated 54 administrative cases in the first quarter of 2019, which is triple the number in the same period last year, according to a report by the Office of Inspector General.
Unable to get the answers it sought at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission agreed to send a letter to Sheriff Alex Villanueva requesting interviews with chiefs who participate in the disciplinary process and access to redacted inactivation memos.
Giggans tried to preempt objections related to confidentiality.
“We want to make it very clear we are not trying to violate any of the confidential parameters that are built in,” Giggans said. “And, if that is going to be used as a smokescreen as to why people cannot come and talk to us, that’s not going to fly very well because it is not about getting into the weeds of any individual cases, it is about policy and how it is being enacted or not enacted.”
The commission also approved recommendations from its ad hoc committee on immigration policy.
The committee commended the department for its professionalism in working “diligently and effectively to implement procedures ensuring compliance” with California law prohibiting the use of local resources in support of immigration enforcement. However, it called for a “more robust bright line separating the activities of the LASD from those of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).”
It recommended, among other things, that LASD:
— not assist in any operation to enforce federal immigration law;
— not give ICE or ICE contractors access to the Inmate Reception Center or other areas of the jail, courthouse lockups or station jails unless required by law;
— not provide ICE with more information than it provides to the public or disseminate information on inmate release unless required by law;
— create an Immigration Information web link with information on policies, procedures and useful resources;
— make public monthly reports on the number of immigration-related transfers to ICE and related offenses; and
— give the COC a quarterly report on the number of civil immigration detainers and criminal enforcement requests received from ICE.
Those recommendations will now be sent to the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Department for consideration.