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LA sheriff's oversight commission chair walks out as talk of secret deputy societies ends in shouting

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department Civilian Oversight Commission takes up reports of secret deputy societies at its meeting on July 26, 2018.
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department Civilian Oversight Commission takes up reports of secret deputy societies at its meeting on July 26, 2018.
Bradley Bermont/KPCC

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The chair of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department watchdog commission walked out from a public meeting on Thursday after a discussion on secret deputy societies devolved into a shouting match about police behavior.

But even before Civilian Oversight Commission Chair Robert Bonner stormed out, the interchange between the commissioners and members of the public were already strained.

The commissioners were taking up allegations that the Compton station houses a deputy clique, which some charge encourages violence. It’s only the most recent allegation against a department that Sheriff Jim McDonnell acknowledged has a history of secret sheriff societies dating back to the 1970s.

“However, despite all of this, no one has undertaken a serious, comprehensive study of the issue,” McDonnell said. “And I intend, on my watch, to get to the bottom of this.” 

McDonnell was hesitant to put a timeline on his deputy societies study. Still, the commission offered its full support and said it hoped to have some answers soon. 

At one point in the meeting, a speaker who identified himself as Reejee used a profanity to describe McDonnell. The shouting escalated, with the speaker accusing Bonner of being part of the Ku Klux Klan. That's when Bonner walked out.

The commission said Bonner plans to return to the panel at the next meeting.

This story has been updated.