Crime & Justice

Following jail suicide, LAPD says it's taking better care of inmates

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After a scathing audit and a jail suicide that sparked angry protests, LAPD officials Tuesday said they are keeping a closer watch on the welfare of inmates at its busy downtown detention facility.

Their promise came in a report to the police commission, the civilian panel that oversees the department. Jailers are checking on inmates every half hour now and entering all cells that have blind spots in them, according to the report.

“We are paying much much better attention to detail with regard to checking the inmate population,” said Assistant Chief Bea Girmala.

Back in June, an audit by the commission’s Inspector General found the LAPD failed to conduct proper inmate checks at the downtown jail more than 80 percent of the time.

Since then, jail staff and supervisors have undergone new training, said Girmala.

According to Tuesday’s report, the state agency that regulates corrections training conducted an audit in August of the LAPD’s jail operations and found that checks were being done properly.

The issue of inmate checks has stirred anger among activists ever since Wakiesha Wilson, an African American woman, committed suicide inside her jail cell on Easter Sunday. Wilson, 36, was bipolar, according to the family attorney.

The family has filed a wrongful death claim against the LAPD and city.

“I hope they are checking more often,” said Paul Minor of Black Lives Matter. “I hope they’re being more responsible.”

The LAPD has yet to complete an investigation into Wilson’s death, according to Girmala.

The June audit found paper logs that appeared to show jailers had checked on inmates when they had not. To remedy that, the LAPD plans to expand the use of digital key cards that would have to be swiped at the jail cells to indicate the inmate has been checked.

The first step in accomplishing this plan is the implantation of a wifi system within the MDC (Metropolitan Detention Center) that would allow connectivity, according to the report.

Installation is expected within the next 90 days.