The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) says reforms designed to address violence in county jails have worsened morale, calling recent reports of abuse “exaggerated.” L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who on the one hand claims to have implemented those reforms, now says his beleaguered Deputies can’t do their jobs ‘cause they’re being picked on. The “Teflon Sheriff” blames jail inmates for increasing violence instead, saying they’ve grown “significantly more hostile toward Deputies and resistant to their directives.”
“At some point in time, if the inmates feel empowered, they will riot. They will try to take it over,” said Floyd Hayhurst, president of the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. “You can feel it in the building when the morale is down. The inmates sense that too.”
Um…lemme get this straight: the L.A. County Board of Supervisors – through its Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence – the FBI, and the ACLU jointly call the Sheriff’s Department out on its indifference, brutality, and misconduct, and suddenly the Deputies’ union claims the resulting reforms are undermining morale? Ha! The jails have never been a place of adequate custodial supervision – they’re more like a slow turtle that’s been flipped onto its back, wriggling helplessly in the sun.
Deputy after Deputy has been brought before various criminal courts for felonies ranging from sex crimes to smuggling cell phones into the jails, but efforts to bring the Department into line represent a danger to – Departmental personnel?? Top brass are accused of protecting abusive Deputies and fraud is now pervasive among the rank and file.
In fact, it’s hard to keep up with all the trouble, the bad PR, and the “incidents” that plague Baca. From Sheriff’s gangs to the Deputy on his way to work in the jail who fired multiple rounds at a motorist ‘cause his car got bumped at McDonald’s; from smuggled heroin burritos to donor “thank-yous” that include giving official-looking identification cards and badges to people with no law enforcement training (one of whom I worked for) – the Department isn’t looking too credible right now. Roughly 200 of the aforementioned credentials were recalled after the U.S. Attorney’s office released a photo of a firearm-waving bimbo wearing the “badge” issued to a bribe-hungry – now disgraced – Councilman.
Yet the Department’s own logic says: shut down the party and break our tradition of secrecy; expose criminal activities within the jails and the Sheriff’s own bone-fide cliques; shine a light on the perjury and the concealment of evidence…and nothing at all will happen except that our Deputies will face greater risk of attack by jail inmates. Therefore, the Department can’t perform its duties if the imposed reforms are allowed to continue.
A recent L.A. Times editorial declared that the Department’s benchmark for success shouldn’t be whether or not Deputy morale is waning. But you’ve gotta admit it’s one heck of an excuse.