Jan. 23, 2021 – SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Friday that he was opening a civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), the largest sheriff’s division in the United States. The investigation will seek to determine whether LASD engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. The California Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation follows allegations of excessive violence, retaliation, and other misconduct, as well as a number of recently reported incidents involving LASD management and staff. The DOJ’s approach today is also a response to the lack of sustained and comprehensive monitoring of LASD operations.
“Those of us in positions of public trust know that the job comes with a solemn obligation to be accountable to the people we serve. Because of the nature of the work involved in law enforcement, this duty of care is increased. ” said Attorney General Becerra. “There are serious concerns and reports that accountability and compliance with legitimate police practices have been abolished in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. We’re conducting this investigation to see if LASD has violated the law or the rights of the people of Los Angeles County. “
Under the California Constitution and California Civil Code, Section 52.3, the attorney general has the authority to conduct a civil investigation to determine whether a law enforcement agency has committed a pattern or practice of violating federal or state law. In contrast to a criminal investigation of an individual incident or incidents, a sample or practice investigation is usually used to identify potentially systematic violations by a law enforcement agency of the constitutional rights of the community as a whole and, if necessary, to remedy them. In relation to LASD, the Attorney General has not made any findings at this time regarding any particular complaint or allegation or the agency’s policies and practices.
Given that interaction and collaboration with the community is central to law enforcement efforts to ensure public safety, the Attorney General encourages anyone with information relevant to this investigation to contact [email protected] .gov to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Enforcement Department. As the investigation progresses, DOJ attorneys and specialty agents will work diligently to consider all relevant information, including from community members and organizations, local officials, regulators, LASD, individual officials and more.
Attorney General Becerra is committed to improving public safety and criminal justice by advocating reform and working with local authorities to implement new guidelines. Last week he received breakthrough youth rights settlements in the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system. Last month, following an extensive investigation, the Attorney General reached an agreement to reform a variety of practices in the Kern County Sheriff’s office. Last year, after significant abuse, he revoked access to CalGang records made by the Los Angeles Police Department. Attorney General Becerra also launched a review of the Vallejo Police Department, calling for nationwide police reform measures to encourage leaders across the state to actively work towards lasting, forward-looking and comprehensive reform. In 2019, he signed an agreement with the Stockton Unified School District and its law enforcement agency to address system-wide civil and constitutional rights violations of African American and Latin American students, as well as students with disabilities. When the Trump administration gave up its role in 2018, the Attorney General stepped in at the request of the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Police Department to independently oversee the reform efforts of the Police Department.
Source: CA. DOJ