New inspector general to oversee LA Sheriff's department

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A veteran public corruption prosecutor is expected to accept the job Tuesday as the county’s new inspector general overseeing the embattled Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department's jail system.

Max Huntsman, 48, a deputy supervisor in the public integrity division at the L.A. District Attorney’s office, was chosen last week to head the new inspector general county agency. His appointment is expected to be confirmed Tuesday at the L.A. County Board of Supervisors' regular meeting.

Huntsman has spent more than 20 years at the D.A.’s office prosecuting public corruption cases involving politicians and officials in Bell, Vernon, Compton and Los Angeles. He also investigated law enforcement officers and police use-of-force cases while in the D.A.’s office.

He is currently prosecuting the public corruption case against the City of Bell’s former assistant city administrator, Angela Spaccia.

“Max Huntsman is uniquely qualified for this position,” said Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas in a written statement last week. “He has shown that the power of the people will catch officials who abuse power.”

As the new inspector general, Huntsman will be in charge of providing independent oversight and monitoring of the Sheriff’s Department. He will have the power to investigate allegations of improper conduct by the  department, which is currently being investigated by the FBI and the federal Department of Justice’s civil rights division for abuse inside the county jails.

The creation of the inspector general position was one of many recommendations made last year by the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence. The blue ribbon panel found a long-time “persistent pattern of unreasonable force” by deputies against inmates, and blamed Sheriff Lee Baca and his undersheriff for enabling, or failing to address, the problem.

There are already a couple of layers of oversight of the Sheriff’s Department with slightly different focuses. The Office of Independent Review is a civilian watchdog group created a dozen years ago to monitor whether officer misconduct allegations are investigated fairly and thoroughly by the department. A Special Counsel to the Supervisors established two decades ago provides semi-annual reports and critical reviews of the department’s performance and policies.

The supervisors have discussed consolidation of the various oversight bodies.

The blue ribbon commission report noted: “A common thread that unites these bodies and their reports is the lack of meaningful or timely action by the Department in response to many of their proposed reforms.” The Sheriff is responsible for accepting and implementing recommendations.

Huntsman will report directly to the Board of Supervisors and make recommendations on policies such as conditions of the jails, the inmate complaint process, allegations of misconduct, use-of-force, and departmental audits and inspections.

His annual salary will be $204, 423.

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