The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to explore giving the Office of the Inspector General greater authority to investigate secret deputy societies as well as subpoena power to review other matters involving the Sheriff’s Department.
“These reported secret deputy cliques are dangerous and I think they have no place in our Sheriff’s Department. They not only erode public trust and undermine the chain of command, we have seen them promote racism and violence,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who authored the motion.
“Giving our Inspector General the authority to investigate these secret societies could shed light on these deputy subgroups and help us ensure transparency and accountability within the Sheriff’s Department,” Hahn said.
“The existence of secret societies — or deputy gangs, as they’re sometimes called — not only diminishes public trust in our Sheriff’s Department but also undermines the very nature of constitutional policing,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the motion’s co-author.
“This problem has been longstanding and intractable,” he said. “The Board must consider measures to bring these secret societies out of the shadows and into the light, including potentially subpoena power for the Inspector General.”
LA County’s Inspector General, Max Huntsman, requested expanded authority in order to better understand the full extent of these secret societies, as well as the ability to issue subpoenas should the Sheriff’s Department continue to deny access to information and refuse efforts by the public to hold them accountable.
The motion passed Tuesday by the Board directs County Counsel, in consultation with the Inspector General, to develop recommendations to expand the authority of the Inspector General to investigate deputy secret societies within the Sheriff’s Department, as well as grant the Inspector General the ability to issue subpoenas in their ongoing review of matters involving the Sheriff’s Department, and report back in 90 days.