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Authorities accused of ignoring calls, using county aircraft

Photo by Thomas Hart via Flickr Creative Commons

Lt. Edison Cook has filed a lawsuit against the county claiming members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department air support division intentionally missed calls for support, the L.A. Times reports.

Deputies were instructed by supervisors, he said, to "slow down on service calls in order to miss calls for service." Cook claimed he was told by a supervisor not to "field too many ships because then it would look like we could get along without overtime." 

At the time of the alleged directives, Sheriff Lee Baca was regularly citing "missed calls" to the Board of Supervisors as a negative consequence of budget cuts, the Times notes.

In 2010 Cook received an email from an Aero Bureau sergeant that read, "If we go short and calls are missed we need to record the missed calls and provide our executives with the proper records so they can fight the fight," the lawsuit alleges.

Sheriff’s department investigators are also looking into allegations made about county aircraft being improperly used by officials, spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed.  

Cook claims that one county aircraft was used "as the personal aircraft for [Capt. Louis] Duran and others" to attend meetings, costing the county tens of thousands of dollars.

"Once again the Sheriff’s Department will do whatever needs to be done to find out if there’s any wrongdoing," Whitmore said.

The county auditor investigated financial accusations regarding contractors also detailed in the lawsuit, but reportedly found no irregularities or impropriety. Results of the criminal investigation into allegations are set to be presented next week to the district attorney’s office.