The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to vote at Tuesday’s meeting on having the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Office of the Inspector General work together to improve firearm safety in relation to “negative outcomes involving the dangerous mix of alcohol and firearms.”
The motion was co-authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis, 1st District, and Lindsey Horvath, 3rd District.
The recommendation to reform firearm safety comes from the Inspector General’s quarterly report on reform and oversight efforts for the period of July through September 2023, published in November.
The report showed that there were eight incidents involving LASD deputies and alcohol while in possession of a firearm from October 2019 to February 2021. That came after a report was published by the Inspector General in 2019 that “identified and reviewed 81 administrative cases charging deputies with various policy violations for being under the influence of alcohol with a firearm in reach.”
The 2019 report was based on cases going back eight years from the report’s publication.
The Inspector General provided six recommendations following that 2019 report:
- The standard of .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit that triggers a presumption of reasonable off-duty action as stated in the current Safety of Firearms policy is too high. The blood alcohol concentration limit in the Safety of Firearms policy should be lowered to the .02 BAC standard used in department policies for being under the influence of an alcoholic beverage when on-duty and for operating a county vehicle.
- The Safety of Firearms policy should include a strict prohibition against carrying firearms while consuming alcohol in establishments that serve alcohol.
- The rebuttable presumption language in the Safety of Firearms policy should be removed. The rebuttable presumption language undermines the intent of the policy and creates ambiguity in the interpretation and application of this policy.
- The Safety of Firearms policy should include an emergency exception that allows a deputy, who has consumed alcohol, to arm himself or herself in emergency situations that require quick action to protect human life.
- Language similar to (policy regarding vehicle operation) should be added to the Safety of Firearms policy. That policy section states that if a department member has an odor of alcoholic beverage or there is a reasonable suspicion to believe the member is under the influence of alcohol, the unit commander or higher shall order a test of the member. If the department member refuses a direct order to be tested, the member shall be subject to discipline.
- The Firearms Safety policy should mandate alcohol testing for all off-duty accidental discharges. There have been instances where deputies had accidental discharges of their firearms while off-duty either at home or in social settings. Because there is no policy requiring alcohol testing in accidental discharge scenarios, it ends up being unknown if alcohol was a factor.
“This issue is incredibly important and needs immediate attention and resolution,” the motion reads. “It was disappointing to learn that despite the recommendations being introduced in 2019, LASD has not, per (Inspector General) and LASD representatives, acted on any of the six recommendations.
“While LASD has indicated that they are reviewing best practices, the tremendous risk of significant negative outcomes when alcohol and firearms are mixed requires that these policies be revised and updated as soon as possible,” the motion continues to read. “Moreover, these risks, and the history of LASD officers identified by (the Inspector General), also make clear that the resulting policies need to give LASD staff clear, unmistakable, guidelines that make it easy for them to understand when they should, or shouldn’t, carry weapons off-duty.”