[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
80°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 19
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


Guest Commentary by Sheriff Lee Baca
| Friday, Sep 14, 2012

Last week, the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence issued a report sharply critical of my department with regard to violence at the Los Angeles County Jail. But the report neglected to mention a number of important initiatives my management team and I have put into place since allegations of problems at the jails surfaced. These measures have resulted in a record low use of force in county jails in recent months.

Here are just some of the initiatives investigators neglected to mention in their report to the jail commission on Friday.

When the American Civil Liberties Union first raised allegations of excessive force being used by deputies, I launched a full-scale investigation into each and every one. Because allegations and anecdotes are not the same as facts, it was important to discover what was true, and I think that when these investigations are completed, which I believe will be soon, the public will be surprised by the factual findings.

But I have not waited for the results of that investigation to take action to improve the jails. After I heard about the excessive force allegations, one of my first steps was to meet with more than 100 inmates and listen to their concerns. The captain of Central Jail, along with key managers and deputies, was present for this town hall-style meeting. At the meeting, inmates were encouraged to express their concerns about excessive use of force, mistreatment and disrespect, and they were assured there would be no reprisals for their remarks.

What we heard primarily were complaints about small things: soap, shower time, family visits, telephone usage, temperature, toothbrushes. Inmates also raised concerns about medical needs and about what precipitates the use of force.

The inmates explained that a key code of conduct within the jails involves respect. If an inmate is not respectful to other inmates, a violent consequence can be expected. This helps explain why a third of all deputy force used in the jails involves breaking up fights between inmates. Disrespectful conduct by deputies has also led to the use of force, and that is something we can’t tolerate. Our core values prohibit disrespectful behavior toward all people.

My jail managers and I also met with 100 deputies who have used force in their dealings with inmates. In small groups, each deputy explained why he or she resorted to force and made suggestions for preventing such incidents in the future. One practice cited as sometimes leading to the use of force on the part of deputies was taking groups of high-risk inmates out of their cells so a nurse could issue pills in a hallway. I have changed that practice. Inmates now remain in their cells during pill call, which has solved one of the problems that sometimes led to the use of force.

Another practice we have changed after speaking with jail personnel is that of allowing deputies without training in mental health issues to escort declassified mental health inmates back to the old Central Jail. In the past, that has sometimes led to force being used on inmates who resisted walking and cooperating. I have issued an order that only deputies trained in handling mentally ill inmates may be assigned to escort former patients to their new jail assignments.

To expand dialogue between inmates and deputies, I have formed a Commanders Management Task Force. And to make sure deputies are ready to serve in the jails, we have increased custody training for new deputies from two to four weeks. I have also written and implemented a force prevention policy, and have instituted new and improved training for all Central Jail deputies on using force. This training soon will be expanded to all jails.

Finally, I have assigned 19 additional sergeants to Central Jail, and I have directed all jail captains to hold weekly town hall meetings with inmates to keep abreast of new problems and their solutions.

These new efforts come on top of years of work to improve our jails. For example, in the belief that people who are incarcerated need to learn how to live a positive life and expand their potential as human beings, our jails now offer a variety of self-improvement classes to more than 6,000 inmates.

As the county’s elected sheriff, I will take responsibility for any proven allegations involving excessive force in the jails. We are still investigating whether these allegations are valid. But I don’t need proof to seize the opportunity for instituting holistic reforms of our jail culture that will improve life for deputies, inmates, professional staff, managers and the hundreds of volunteers who help us on a daily basis. I am determined to make our jail system the least violent in the nation.

 

Lee Baca has been sheriff of Los Angeles County since 1998.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017
It was 10 years ago this fall semester that we opened the Canyon Country Campus on Sierra Highway. We are celebrating a decade of academic excellence and community impact. What a difference a decade makes.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
The Trump budget proposes decreasing funding to the Department of the Interior by $1.5 billion. Trump is calling for more drilling in national parks and monuments. He plans to open BLM land to drilling and fracking.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
We are quickly approaching the culmination of the year-long celebration of our city’s 30th anniversary. It is truly a time to celebrate all the hard work, dedication, perseverance and passion that took our City from being a tiny portion of Los Angeles County to the thriving third largest city in the county.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
This month marks an exciting milestone for the premier arts and entertainment district in Santa Clarita.
Friday, Sep 29, 2017
Kaepernick has never spoken of personally experiencing any negative interactions with the police. Appearances are he had a pretty nice life provided by people with white skin while living in a country that presented him with obvious, mind-boggling opportunities.
Thursday, Sep 28, 2017
Despite its close proximity to the city of Barstow, Rainbow Basin remains virtually undiscovered. It is well worth a visit. Visitors to the area can find scenic opportunities for hiking, rock scrambling, camping, photography, sightseeing and horseback riding.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
Maryama, a band led by alumna Maryama Mirbagheri (Music MFA 17) was recently nominated for a 2017 Hollywood Music in Media Award (HMMA).
CalArts Graduate Nominated for Hollywood Music in Media Award
City officials gathered Wednesday for the Grand Opening of "Three Oaks," the first 100 percent affordable family development in Santa Clarita.
Affordable Housing Comes to Santa Clarita
The Gibbon Conservation Center will celebrate Halloween for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 28: Gibbon Conservation Center Celebrates First Halloween
California State University, Northridge is partnering with the California State University Entertainment Alliance to host a morning of workshops designed to offer students and members of the public advice on building successful careers in the entertainment industry.
Oct. 23: CSUN Workshop; Succeeding in Entertainment Industry
Spotlight Arts Center, a local non-profit that provides free performing and visual arts classes to children in the Santa Clarita Valley, will hold its Fall Festival, Sunday, Oct. 22 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Oct. 22: Fall Festival Spotlight Arts Center
The College of the Canyons Athletics department is inviting all players, coaches and cheerleaders associated with a Santa Clarita Valley youth sports league or cheer organization to attend Saturday's Cougar football game free of charge.
Oct. 21: SCV Youth Teams Invited to Free COC Football Game
College of the Canyons freshmen Joanna Roecker and Cassandra Lee both turned in scores of 79 to lead the Cougars to a second place team finish at the Western State Conference (WSC) event hosted by Glendale College at Brookside Golf Course on Monday.
COC Falls Short at WSC Glendale
Beginning Monday, October 23, 2017, the city of Santa Clarita will increase the frequency of street sweeping throughout all areas of the City.
Oct. 23: City Begins Increased Street Sweeping Frequency
In a battle for Western State Conference, East Division supremacy, it was College of the Canyons that came out on top Tuesday night, as the Cougars scored two second half goals to secure a 2-0 win against visiting Antelope Valley College. Justine Hoeft and Jennifer Roney collected goals for the Cougars (11-2, 2-0).
COC Secures Win Against AVC With Two Second-Half Goals
The upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Buckweed Fires offers Santa Clarita residents a reminder of the ever-present fire danger in Los Angeles County, as blazes ravage the northern half of the state, as well.
County, City Officials Reflect on 10-Year Anniversary of Buckweed Fires
Dreamation Craft Guild will be hosting a boutique at Canyon High School, Nov. 18, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to benefit the family of John Phippen, the Santa Clarita resident who was killed in the Las Vegas shooting.
Nov. 18: Holiday Marketplace Benefiting John Phippen Family
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – To ensure drivers, passengers, and children are properly restrained while traveling California’s roadways, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has partnered with the California Office of Traffic Safety on a new traffic safety campaign entitled, “California Restraint Safety Education And Training” (CARSEAT).
CHP’s New Traffic Safety Campaign Focuses on Saving Lives, Reducing Injuries
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Speed and aggressive driving, the main causes of traffic collisions in California, will be the focus of a year-long education and enforcement campaign by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) that started Oct. 1, 2017.
CHP Grant Aims to Reduce Fatalities, Traffic Injuries; Addresses Street Racing
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The fall 2017 Star Party at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country campus on Friday, Oct. 27 will focus on the pathways to space exploration that exist for star-gazers who are captivated by the many mysteries of the universe.
Oct. 27: Star Party at COC Canyon Country Campus
Determined to transform the deeply troubled Los Angeles County Probation Department, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to consider an independent entity that would provide guidance, oversight and accountability.
Supes Consider Entity for Probation Reform Guidance, Oversight, Accountability
Alexia Cina of Canyon Country was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of a mother of six children in a head-on crash on Golden Valley Road on October 6.
Woman Charged with Manslaughter, DUI in Death of Mother of 6
The 22nd annual Santa Clarita Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017, following the Santa Clarita Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday.
Nov. 4-5: 22nd Annual Santa Clarita Marathon Events
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped to a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series following Tuesday night’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field.
Dodgers Out to Sweep Cubs in NLCS Game 4
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's 2017 Medal of Valor Awards were held Tuesday in Los Angeles, and SCV Sheriff's Station Deputy Dmitry Barkon was recognized for his bravery and heroic actions.
SCV Sheriff’s Deputy Dmitry Barkon Earns Medal of Valor
Now is the time for all good college-bound high school seniors to join the 'Race to Submit' applications for FAFSA and CADAA grants to help cover college expenses.
High School Seniors: ‘Race to Submit’ is on for 2018 College Financial Aid
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies interrupted a smash-and-grab burglary on The Old Road early Friday morning, arresting one suspect and seeking two alleged accomplices still at large.
SCV Deputies Catch Window-Smash Burglars in the Act
Pukúu Cultural Community Services, founded in 1971 by members of the local Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, will host its 13th Annual scholarship gala fundraiser, "Night with the Stars," in Sunland on Saturday, November 4 starting at 6 p.m.
Nov. 4: Local Tribe Honors 3, Celebrates Native American Heritage Month
California's Attorney General today filed a motion to compel the federal government to follow the law and pay the subsidies that millions of Americans rely on to lower the out-of-pocket costs in their insurance plans.
California AG Fights to Keep ACA Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Santa Clarita business owners are encouraged to take the city's broadband feasibility study online survey and participate in the next phase of the study -- in-person focus groups scheduled for October 30.
Oct. 30: Focus Groups in Next Phase of City Broadband Study
The $17 billion "California WaterFix" project reached a tipping point Tuesday after a Silicon Valley water district voted against Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach in favor of a less expensive, scaled-back version.
Silicon Valley Water Board Wants Delta Tunnels Downsized
Maryama, a band led by CalArts alumna Maryama Mirbagheri (Music MFA 17), was recently nominated for a 2017 Hollywood Music in Media Award in the World Music category.
Maryama Nominated for Hollywood Music in Media Award
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in response to President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has declared Oct. 16-20 "DACA Advocacy Week."
California Community Colleges Ramp Up DACA Advocacy
COC and the Hart District will host the 2017 College & Career Fair in the college’s Honor Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Oct. 21: 2017 College and Career Fair at COC
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery will showcase the work of Los Angeles-based painter Sheldon Figoten in a one-person exhibition of new paintings, “Light Fields,” opening Saturday, Oct. 28.
Oct. 28: Sheldon Figoten ‘Light Fields’ at COC Art Gallery
The Santa Clarita Artists Association held its 28th Annual Art Classic fine arts competition at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall in Newhall on October 14.
Santa Clarita Artists Association Names Winners in 2017 Art Classic
Here is the Castaic-Val Verde Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 25 through October 1.
Crime Blotter: Arson, Burglary, Theft in Castaic-Val Verde
California and New Mexico launched a fresh challenge Tuesday against the Trump administration’s repeal of higher royalty payments to states for oil, gas and coal leases on public lands.
California, New Mexico Challenge White House Favors to Oil, Gas, Coal
Here is the Stevenson Ranch (Zone 3) Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for the week of October 2 to October 8.
Crime Blotter: Burglary, Petty Theft in Stevenson Ranch
Here is the Canyon Country East (Zone 8) Crime Information and Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 24 through October 8, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Vehicle Theft, Burglary in Canyon Country East