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Leroy Baca (R), Sheriff of Los Angeles County, Melvin Bledsoe (L), and Abdirizak Bihi (C), director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center testify before the Committee on Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 10, 2011.
The Justice Department indicted 18 L.A. County Sheriff's deputies yesterday in connection with separate instances of alleged misconduct, including inmate abuse, false arrests and obstruction of justice. Sixteen of the deputy sheriffs were taken into custody rather than given an opportunity to surrender voluntarily.
United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said, “Our investigation also found that these incidents did not take place in a vacuum – in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized. The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law."
In turn, L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca countered that there is no institutional problem at the department.In a press conference Baca said, "While the indictments were not unexpected, it is nevertheless, a sad day for this department. We do not tolerate misconduct by any deputies." Are these indictments just the first of more to come? What oversight is needed at the Sheriff's Department?
Brian Moriguchi, Professional Peace Officers Association (union representing some of the arrested Sheriff’s Dept. personnel)
André Birotte Jr., U.S. State Attorney for the Central Region of California, Department of Justice.; Birotte was a public defender in Los Angeles at the time of the riots; former Inspector General of the L.A.P.D.