Crime & Justice

LA County sheriff's deputies at Men's Central Jail under investigation

File photo: The Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, September 10, 2006.
File photo: The Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, September 10, 2006.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Wednesday confirmed that the department has broadened its investigation into a clique of deputies who worked at Men’s Central Jail.

The department’s already started the process of firing six deputies who attacked two colleagues at a Christmas party after they teased them about their work at the jail. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the deputies may have been involved in other misconduct.

“We’re looking at some other things as well that may or may not be connected to this incident," said Whitmore. When asked whether this was inside the jail, Whitmore responded, “Wherever this leads, Frank. That’s all I can say about this unfortunately.”

The deputies – all men – worked on the third floor of the downtown lockup and formed what officials called a "clique" that used gang-like hand signals. The Los Angeles Times reports allegations of abuse of inmates is more common on the third floor of the sprawling complex that’s long been the focus of concern for civil rights activists.

Whitmore said the department is changing its rotation policy to counter any problem cliques. “Instead of staying for let's say three to four years on the same floor in the same facility, perhaps they’ll stay for a year.”

Whitmore said rotations had slowed because of a hiring freeze and fewer openings for street patrol. The district attorney is also considering criminal charges against the six deputies.