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LA County Supervisors ask for feasibility study on creating Sheriff's Department oversight positions

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took its first steps Tuesday toward addressing a couple of the recommendations made last week by an independent commission on jail violence that found a pattern of deputy brutality toward inmates.

The  supervisors will get a report in three weeks on the feasibility, costs, legal and legislative hurdles of establishing a permanent and independent Citizens’ Law Enforcement Commission and the creation of an inspector general's office.

One of the 63 recommendations in the Citizens Commission on Jail violence report last week suggested that the county appoint an inspector general to provide independent oversight of the jails and report directly to the Board of Supervisors. The report blamed LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and his undersheriff for harboring a “persistent pattern of unreasonable force” against jail inmates.  

“I don’t know if there is any more information that can be brought to my attention that would cause me to feel that structural reform is not the order of the day,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. He added that the board's immediate endorsement of several recommendations would convey a sense of accountability. 

Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky expressed concern about establishing too quickly these two new county offices without sufficient legislative and fiscal homework. Yaroslavsky said the county unsuccessfully tried to introduce an oversight commission in 1997.

“There’s nothing that would drive me more crazy than to approve a citizens review commission that cannot review anything,” said the supervisors' chairman Zev Yaroslavsky.

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