Crime & Justice

Team charged with launching Citizens Oversight Commission will have first meeting Friday

The current seal of Los Angeles County, California, e.g.
The current seal of Los Angeles County, California, e.g. "L.A. County seal", adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in September 2004.
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Members of a working group that will draw up the details of how a Citizens Oversight Commission over the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department should be set up will meet for the first time Friday.

The 7-member team will set the size, scope and authority of the commission and report back to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in three months. Each of the five county Supervisors appointed a member. They'll be joined by representatives from the Office of Inspector General and the sheriff's department.

They include: public interest lawyer Hernan Vera, former Federal Trade Commission prosecutor Dean Hansell, Les Robbins from the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, former FBI agent Brent Braun, and Vincent Harris, a senior adviser in Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' office.

The future citizens commission is meant to be a watchdog over the Los Angeles county sheriff's department, which has come under fire for abuse allegations over the years.

It would be separate from Inspector General Max Huntsman, who already oversees the department.

Huntsman has complained his powers to investigate the sheriff's department are limited because he does not have the authority to access deputies' personnel records.

In December, Huntsman told the board that the future commission's top priority should be paving legal ground to give his office the power to view personnel records and take action.

"If you buy a watchdog, they are only worth it if they come into your house," he said. "A watchdog can't watch what they can’t enter, and be part of."