A recent study commissioned by The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors measured the number of of shootings of unarmed suspects by the Sheriff’s Department. The study found that these shootings jumped from nine in 2009 to fifteen last year.
Over the past 15 years, sheriff’s deputies shot and killed 178 people, and wounded 204 more. These armed encounters are referred to as “waistband shootings,” because the suspect is thought to have been reaching toward their waistband for a weapon.
In many cases, it turns out, the suspect was holding a cell phone or a pair of sunglasses. The percentage of unarmed suspects increased from one-fifth to one-third last year, and the report points out that many of the deputies involved lacked the proper training. Not only that – serious problems with the sheriff’s record-keeping were also uncovered.
What do these numbers say about our Sheriff’s Department? Would you feel safe in an encounter with a deputy? What's the best way to prevent these situations?
Merrick J. Bobb, Special Counsel to the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles County and author of the report on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Richard Lichten, Police and Jail Procedures Consultant