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Will the LA Sheriff's Firing of Six Deputies Accused of Beating Fellow Officers at Christmas Party Finally Be Enough to Spur Real Reform in County Jail?

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is in the process of firing half a dozen deputies who worked on the third floor of Men's Central Jail for supposedly beating up a pair of fellow officers at a Christmas party.

The LA Times is reporting that the deputies, who have not been publicly named, were part of a close-knit clique of officers who worked on the jail's third floor and used used gang-like hand signals to distinguish themselves from deputies working on other floors.

In response, the sheriff's department has reportedly said it is considering reforms, such as rotating jail assignments more frequently to prevent deputies from forming potentially violent gang-like cliques.

But based on history, there is little reason to believe this will happen, as oversight officials have been asking the sheriff's department to do this for more than 15 years.

In 1994, the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC), which makes recommendations to the LA County Sheriff's Department in the form of two written reports each year, scolded the sheriff's office's over jail rotations.

The "Department promised it would look at options to at least expedite the custody rotation," states the report. "We have seen none, and the length of the custody rotation continues to grow longer."

Eleven year later, the same problem persisted.

"It is generally accepted that the current custody tenure is too long," stated the 2005 PARC report. "Shortening deputies' custody time should be a priority for the LASD. The longer a deputy ... is forced to stay in a custody assignment, the more likely he or she is to become bitter, jaded and complacent."

According to The Times, deputies working the third floor of Men's Central Jail had more use-of-force incidents against inmates over the past four years than officers working on any other floor of the jail.

The termination of six deputies involved in the Christmas party melee is being described as one of the largest disciplinary actions in the history of the sheriff's department.

It will be interesting to see if it is enough to finally jump-start the reforms that PARC and others have been requesting for decades.


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