Oversight Panel Launches Full-Scale Investigation into Deputy Gangs

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Media Release

March 24, 2022

Civilian Oversight Panel Launches Full-Scale Investigation into Deputy Gangs

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission’s Chair Sean Kennedy announced that the Commission will launch a full-scale investigation into the deputy gangs that have plagued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for decades.

With the assistance of a large team of pro bono lawyers, the investigation will analyze the continued existence and impact of deputy gangs and evaluate what is needed to eradicate them. To support the investigation, the Commission will use its full subpoena power, including hearing testimony at regular monthly meetings and specially scheduled public hearings.

“Deputy gangs have fostered and promoted excessive force against citizens, discriminated against other deputies based on race and gender, and undermined the chain of command and discipline,” said Sean Kennedy, Commission Chair and Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law & Policy Executive Director. Despite years of documented history of this issue, the Department has failed to eliminate the gangs.”

Numerous reports demonstrate that deputy gangs still exist, but their scope and impact is unknown. The investigation will determine which stations deputy gangs currently operate out of, as well as the gangs’ adverse effect on the community and the Department itself. The evaluation will assess the effectiveness of the Department’s existing policies as well as the Commission’s proposed policy that explicitly prohibits deputy gangs. The final report will include recommended policies, leadership and actions needed to eradicate deputy gangs. The Commission intends to use the full measure of its power to issue subpoenas under State and County law in aid of its investigation.

The effort, expected to continue over the next 5-6 months, will be led by Bert H. Deixler, a well-respected attorney who was a lead attorney in the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence investigation. Mr. Deixler will be supported by lawyers experienced in conducting internal investigation for major corporations and other entities for some of Los Angeles’ most prominent law firms, including: Bart Williams and Susan L. Gutierrez of Proskauer; Anthony Pacheco of Vedder Price and former member of the LA Police Commission; Carolyn Kubota of Covington and Naeun Rim of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. The Commission will coordinate with and receive assistance from the L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman.

Background: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to implement the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission in January 2016 with the mission to oversee, improve public transparency and accountability with respect to the Sheriff’s Department. The Commission is comprised of nine volunteer members appointed by the Board of Supervisors, with four recommended by community and other affiliated groups.

Since its formation in 2017, the Commission has been tracking the issue of deputy gangs. There is a long history of documentation on deputy gangs, including the 1992 Kolt Report, the 2012 Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence Report, the Inspector General’s Analysis into the Banditos, Loyola Law School’s 50 Years of Deputy Gangs Report, Knock LA’s Investigative Series into Deputy Gangs, and most recently the 2021 RAND Study on Understanding Subgroups.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Wicks, Community Information Officer
Office: (213) 253-5678
Cell: (213) 952-9036


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