Sheriff's monitor finds more deputies driving drunk in annual report

The independent monitor of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says alcohol-related arrests of deputies and other sheriff's personnel doubled last year. More on the story from KPCC's Frank Stoltze.

Frank Stoltze: Last year, authorities arrested 70 sheriff's deputies and other personnel for drunk driving, alcohol-related domestic violence, and other offenses involving booze. The increase is part of a five-year trend.

Michael Gennaco: There is an upward trend and it's certainly significant with regard to arrests for DUIs. That's a problem.

Stoltze: Michael Gennaco heads the sheriff's Office of Independent Review. He attributed the increase in part to better reporting. But he also said a culture of drinking continues among some cops. He said the sheriff has begun to publicize deputies' DUI arrests.

Gennaco: That is something that I think is unprecedented in law enforcement – that is airing the dirty laundry at least within the organization about the fact that hey, your colleagues are driving drunk.

Stoltze: Genacco offered his observations in an annual report on the Sheriff's Department. In it, he faults the training academy for nearly losing its certification last year. The problem – it was allowing recruits to repeatedly re-take tests.

He couldn't say whether any unqualified deputies are on the streets as a result, but he said the sheriff has fixed the problem. Genacco also said the department's finally limiting the use of electric Tasers.

Gennaco: Unfortunately, it took a couple of tragic incidents before that kicked in.

Stoltze: Gennaco said one incident ended with the partial paralysis of an unarmed suspect who was already in custody. He said the department is preparing a Taser training video for all deputies.

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