Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies received more than twice as many commendations from the public as complaints for the fourth quarter 2020, according to a report from the Office of Inspector General expected to be reviewed at Tuesday’s L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting.
SCV deputies responded to more than 11,000 calls for service during the Oct. 1-Dec. 31 time period in the review, as well as approximately 13,600 “self-initiated field activities” — i.e. a deputy observing a situation and then responding, according to Sheriff’s Department data. As a response to those interactions, deputies received 24 commendations, 11 personnel complaints and one service complaint.
In the report, commendations are described as an “external communication of appreciation for/and approval of service provided by LASD members,” whereas a personnel complaint is an “external allegation of misconduct, either a violation of law or LASD policy, against any member of the LASD.” A service complaint is identified as an external comment with LASD service, procedure or practice not involving employee conduct (i.e. a person was unhappy with how a call was handled, but the unhappiness stemmed from policy as opposed to a perceived misconduct).
“We are very fortunate out here to have a very supportive community,” said SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez, expressing gratitude for the commendations from the public, but also noting the numbers don’t tell the whole story in terms of the outpouring of support the station has seen from the public. The station has a wall full of thank-you cards proudly displayed at the station, as well as numerous donations, such as food items, the public has also given.
He also said the station’s goal was to reduce the number of complaints to zero.
“We always, always encourage any input from the community, whether it’s a complaint or a commendation,” Diez said. “All of our sergeants and lieutenants know that anytime somebody calls and wants to offer a comment — either positive or negative — to take it. And really what that allows us to do, especially on complaints … is to re-evaluate what we’re doing, and sometimes we determine that the deputies’ actions are correct, and sometimes we determine the deputies’ actions are wrong.”
The numbers represent the highest number of commendations for any station, according to the report, and six more than the closest station, Palmdale, which also recorded 28 personnel complaints and three service complaints. Palmdale’s 28 complaints was the highest number for any station or bureau.
The Lancaster station generated eight commendations, 19 personnel complaints and four service complaints. The North County Correctional Facility, which is part of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, was listed as having three commendations and zero complaints.