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Sheriff tries to speed up internal reviews of deputy misconduct claims

October 24, 2010 |  2:05 pm


The allegations were serious: A group of Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies escorted an inmate to a secluded spot in Men's Central Jail, beat him, pulled down his boxers and pepper-sprayed his anus and groin.

The Sheriff's Department waited to launch an internal affairs investigation until the Los Angeles County district attorney's office decided whether it was going to press criminal charges. After almost three years, prosecutors decided not to.

That decision opened the door to the internal affairs investigation, which is still going on. Since the incident, two of the accused deputies continue to be paid.

For the cash-strapped department, that means shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for employees who aren't working.

For years, the department had waited until criminal investigations into its employees were completed before launching the internal reviews to determine whether misconduct occurred.

In an attempt to avoid such long delays in internal investigations, top Sheriff's Department officials recently changed course and decided to allow their own inquiries to begin immediately.

"There were significant investigations that were being delayed two, three years because the district attorney's office wasn't doing anything," said department spokesman Steve Whitmore. Sheriff Lee Baca "wanted to make sure that practice stopped."

Read more: "Sheriff's Department reverses internal affairs investigation policy."

-- Robert Faturechi

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. Credit: Los Angeles Times