Statements from supervisor and inspector general on LASD

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department seal. File Photo
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department seal. File Photo
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Read the story: Supervisor, inspector general question sheriff over transparency, threats

Full text of Inspector General Max Huntsman’s statement on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020 to The Signal regarding the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Aug. 7 Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station incident:

I understand you inquired about Supervisor Barger’s request that OIG look into this incident.  Pursuant to Government Code section 25303 and County Code section 6.44.190, we have requested documentation regarding the 911 calls and LASD communications (such as mobile data terminal traffic) that could provide more detail.  LASD has declined to provide us the documentation requested at this time.  They have said they will provide documentation when they have completed their inquiries.  The Sheriff has publicly stated repeatedly that civilian oversight (simply asking questions and receiving documents) obstructs law enforcement and he will not comply with our investigations until he decides a matter is closed.

For years LASD complied with state and local laws requiring monitoring of their conduct, including active investigations.  A little over a year ago, this office provided a draft report to LASD which detailed the facts behind the decision to rehire Caren Mandoyan, allegedly a member of a secret society known as the Grim Reapers.  In apparent response, LASD shut down OIG computer access.  The sheriff personally threatened me that there would be “consequences” if I issued the report.  When I issued the report he placed myself and members of my office under criminal investigation for doing what County Code section 6.44.190 requires and what had, until then, been authorized by LASD.

Since ancient Rome, the public has asked “who watches the watchmen?”  State and county laws require armed law enforcement to submit to civilian oversight, a fundamental requirement for a free society.  In March, 2020, 72% of county voters confirmed they wanted civilian oversight by approving subpoena power for the Civilian Oversight Commission.  The California Senate and Assembly have passed AB 1185 which confirms that civilian oversight means the legal authority to investigate freely and that such investigation does NOT obstruct law enforcement’s job.  None the less, LASD continues to refuse to comply with document requests and subpoenas.  When an arm of government which regularly uses deadly force places itself above the law, nobody is watching the watchmen.

Full text of LASD Lt. John Satterfield’s statement on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020 to The Signal in response to Inspector General Max Huntsman’s statement:

The current OIG (Max Huntsman) has a well-established pattern of issuing unsubstantiated and inflammatory allegations, while at the same time selectively omitting facts which are unfavorable to his position.  Please review the materials we have posted on our website under “Transparency Promise” to see some of the ones we have previously addressed:

In regard to his most recent allegations, here is some background information.  Former Sheriff Jim McDonnell entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Inspector General Max Huntsman to share confidential LASD information.  The MOA details, amongst other things, OIG’s access to the Personnel Performance Index (PPI) database.  The PPI system was succeeded by the Performance Recording and Monitoring System (PRMS) in January 2017.

The MOA states:

The Inspector General may obtain access to the Personnel Performance Index (PPI) system (or equivalent access on any successor system), including individually identifiable information, by making a request to the Captain of Risk Management Bureau or his/her designee.  Direct access to the system will be provided only to OIG personnel specifically designated by the Inspector General and will be on a secured computer terminal maintained at the Sheriff’s Department.  To respect the right of privacy of LASD employees, OIG agrees to limit such requests to information that the Inspector General has determined is necessary for the OIG to accomplish its purpose, but shall include executive level access when deemed necessary by the Inspector General.  Printed copies of PPA material may be obtained, consistent with the terms of this MOA, by making a request to the Captain of Risk Management Bureau or his/her designee.

Immediately after the execution of the MOA, OIG personnel were able to access PRMS from any LASD computer terminal.  However, due to security concerns, effective June 2019, OIG personnel were required to utilize LASD computer terminals at Risk Management Bureau to access PRMS.  His public allegations the “LASD abruptly shut down” OIG’s access and “repeatedly refused to allow OIG to fulfill a critical part of its mission” is factually incorrect. 

Since June 2019, OIG personnel have accessed PRMS over 150 times and reviewed and/or printed various reports and/or case files for over 1,300 PRMS cases including force, shootings, administrative investigations, public complaints, and inmate complaints. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, LASD extended the courtesy to OIG personnel to submit their requests for PRMS reports and cases via email and the requested files were provided to OIG as digital copies to allow them to continue their mission of monitoring the LASD. 

Contrary to his accusations, at no time was OIG ever refused access to PRMS.  Our current protocols are consistent, and in full compliance, with the MOA wherein OIG personnel has, and will continue to have, direct access to PRMS via secured computer terminals maintained at the Sheriff’s Department.

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