By City News Service
Responding to a federal civil rights investigation of the jail system, county Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina will ask their colleagues Tuesday to support the creation of a permanent oversight commission for the sheriff's department.
In their motion to establish a Los Angeles County Citizens Law Enforcement Commission, the supervisors maintain the new federal probe dramatizes the need for heightened scrutiny of the department. The Justice Department's civil investigation will focus specifically on the treatment of mentally ill inmates.
A criminal investigation into allegations of excessive force and other wrongdoing began in 2011.
"The seriousness of this new investigation and the allegations of abuse that prompted it cannot be ignored," Ridley-Thomas said. "The sheriff's department has long required a level of scrutiny that has been missing, and although the board only controls its budget, the department is there to serve the citizens of L.A. County, and that's who should have greater oversight."
Molina added that scrutiny is "needed to ensure that there is proper oversight of the sheriff's department. A sheriff's department oversight commission is the best vehicle to ensure accountability."
Although the board's authority over the sheriff, who is an elected official, largely is limited to budgetary matters, the supervisors have the authority to establish an independent advisory citizens' oversight commission, Ridley-Thomas said.
The motion calls for each supervisor to appoint a commissioner to the panel by Oct. 15. In addition, it calls for a funding and staffing plan for the commission and for county counsel to cement the commission's role with language formalizing the relationship between the sheriff's department, the Office of the Inspector General and the board.
In the Crescenta Valley, the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station patrols the city of La Cañada Flintridge and the unincorporated areas of Montrose and La Crescenta.