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Report: Sheriff hired problem cops; 1 drunkenly fired gun from car

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials hired several problem cops from the disbanded Maywood police force last year, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of Independent Review.

One of the officers drunkenly fired his gun while driving and another was let go from another police agency for dishonesty.

The troubled Maywood police force was disbanded and replaced by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in 2010, as the city faced financial trouble and laid off nearly all of its employees.

The Sheriff's Department has been criticized before for less than thorough hirings, a practice some critics say has contributed to recent problems in the jails with deputies allegedly abusing inmates and smuggling contraband into the lockups.

A Times investigation in 2007 found that the Maywood Police Department had become a haven for misfit cops who had been pushed out of other law enforcement agencies for crimes or serious misconduct. At least one-third of the then-37 member force had left other police jobs under a cloud or had brushes with the law while working for Maywood.

When the Sheriff's Department was commissioned to take over, officials agreed to consider hiring some of the disbanded force's cops. Many were rejected.

But according to the report, four "questionable" applicants made it through.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore pointed out that the decision to hire the Maywood cops was made by the previous undersheriff, and that as deputies, "they've all done pretty well."

He said that such reports from the department's watchdog are what Sheriff Lee Baca had hoped for when he proposed creating the oversight agency.

"That's exactly what the sheriff wants the OIR to do, to bring up these issues and bring them to the light of day," Whitmore said.

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-- Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard

 
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