Los Angeles County to Investigate Sheriff’s Department ‘Deputy Gangs’ [Photo]

Last year, journalist Cerise Castle authored an investigation into gangs within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

via: Complex

The 6-month investigation announced by the Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission, conducted by pro bono lawyers, will allow investigators to see if and how many gangs are operating, and how the sheriff’s department’s current policies work.

As the publication shares, law enforcement gangs include officers who “engage in a pattern of on-duty behavior that intentionally violates the law or fundamental principles of professional policing” and identify with a name or symbol, per California statute.

“The problem with their announcement is the COC and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) already launched that investigation, almost three years ago,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement. “In all that time, not one deputy ‘gang member’ has been identified.”

In a letter sent to Villanueva, Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman said his office was investigating at least 41 deputies for potential gang involvement, per Rolling Stone. The letter points to a “partial list of deputies whom the Sheriffs Department itself has identified as allegedly being tattooed members.” Tattoos for the Bandidos reportedly feature a skeleton with a sombrero holding a revolver, while tattoos for the Executioners’ features “a skeleton with a Nazi-style military helmet.”

Huntsman, in the letter, reportedly points to undersheriff Timothy Murakami, and claims he did not hand over documents related to the gang investigation two months ago when asked.

“The Sheriffs Department may not refuse to produce the records requested,” Huntsman writes, “by unilaterally declaring that no deputy sheriff is a member of a ‘law enforcement gang.’”

The COC says the gangs, which are known to share the same tattoos and operate almost like normal street gangs, have existed for 50 years. It shares that they “create a shadow-system of supervision and leadership” and create an “us-against-them culture.”

“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 Loyola Law School’s Center for Juvenile Law and Policy commission chair and executive director Sean Kennedy. “Despite years of documented history of this issue, the Department has failed to eliminate the gangs.”

Villanueva added that he awaits “whatever new FACTUAL information they can provide,” as a final report is expected at the end of the investigation. For now, the sheriff’s department is already making headlines over an alleged coverup regarding an officer kneeling on a man’s head for 30 seconds back in 2021.

Hopefully they get down to what’s going on in the department.

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