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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: ‘Bridge to Communities We Serve’ | 01-26-2017
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| Thursday, Jan 26, 2017
Commentary by Sheriff Jim McDonnell

As Sheriff, I was an early and vocal supporter of a Civilian Oversight Commission for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. I firmly believe we need and want another bridge to the communities we serve.

The Civilian Oversight Commission will allow the people of L.A. County to participate in the process as we seek resolution to some of the most challenging criminal justice issues of our time.

This includes those who feel wronged or violated by law enforcement. But this also includes those whose lives have been saved by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Our Department is very large and the responsibilities are extremely diverse. Our deputies made contact with more than two million people last year and responded to thousands of calls for service.

Members of the Civilian Oversight Commission are key advisors and will bring much needed, and welcomed, outside expertise and points of view. The public’s trust in the LASD will be stronger and more effective and our Department will be viewed with greater trust with the additional layer of accountability from this Commission.

I am confident, ours can be a partnership that becomes a national model that shows citizens and the police can put party politics and special interests aside and roll-up their sleeves, speak with respect and get the job done.

While police use of force is part of the national dialogue, so should be the need for local, state and federal resources to deal with the prevalence of mental illness and drug addiction that impact the safety of our community and our officers.

While police accountability is questioned by some, we have the opportunity to be the national model of transparency with the layers of accountability our department has implemented.

Those layers begin with recruiting, hiring, training, supervision, management, our systems, policies and procedures, our Audit & Accountability Bureau, our Constitutional Policing Advisors, our Executive Leadership Team, the Office of the Inspector General and now the Civilian Oversight Commission. It is all about leadership and working hard to be the very best that we can be every day.

I ask you share community concerns with us freely. When we are wrong, we will own it, acknowledge it and fix it, but when we perform our duties in a manner that demonstrates the courage, compassion and commitment the overwhelming majority of our people do every day, I ask you acknowledge that as well.

When you see we are struggling for appropriate resources in order to accomplish our goals by providing the best possible service for the communities we are privileged to serve, we ask you advocate for us as well. We need your help and welcome your partnership.

I also understand the credibility of our work together requires a high level of independence for both the Commission and the LASD.

As Sheriff, I have a responsibility to the voters of a county of 10 million people and I intend fulfill that responsibility. My job is to provide leadership to an exceptional organization of men and women who believe in our mission of constitutional policing and risk their lives in furtherance of that mission. I have set the bar high and hold all of our employees to a very high standard. I am accountable to the over 10 million residents of Los Angeles County for the conduct and performance of the LASD and I take that responsibility very seriously.

However, having your insight and expertise will be invaluable. You will provide the perspectives that are representative of all the diverse communities of Los Angeles County.

Having strong points of view and a candid relationship built upon respect is good. It is healthy.

Being heard, being respectful and moving forward is a good way to start this journey together. We have the opportunity to set the tone and agenda that will truly define 21st century constitutional policing.

We can embody the kind of professionalism to focus on getting things done, but doing so in the best interests of 10 million Los Angeles residents, and not the self-interests of one or a few.

We already work with independent oversight. The LASD has accomplished a lot of good work with the Office of the Inspector General with whom we have a strong and open working relationship.

I look forward to working with an exceptional group of professionals who make up the Civilian Oversight Commission.

 

Jim McDonnell is sheriff of Los Angeles County.

 

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