LA County Board of Supervisors LASD Law Enforcement

County to Look into Making it Easier to Take Action Against County Employees Who Lie

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

The LA County Board of Supervisors called for an analysis of whether a portion of the county’s civil service rules should be amended to make it easier for law enforcement officials and other county executives to discipline, reassign, or fire employees who are dishonest.

The motion, put forward by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, would look into reforming the civil service hearing process for county employees involved with public safety and custody (as well as mandated reporters, like social workers). “The job of the peace officer simply cannot be entrusted to anyone who is not scrupulously honest,” the motion reads. The motion will look at whether the civil service rules should be amended to allow for discharge, reassignment, or discipline for county employees who have given false statements, misrepresentations, or omissions of material facts in investigations.

In the case of a deputy who has admitted to lying on hundreds of police reports, a “dysfunctional discipline system” has prevented the sheriff’s department from firing the deputy, said Max Huntsman, Inspector General for the LASD. “Civil service reform is a critical part of repairing that process.”

“If there is a question of whether the disciplinary systems here in our county are effective enough, we have an obligation to address any gaps in a manner that is fair and transparent while, at the same time, honoring and respecting employee rights,” said Board Chair Ridley-Thomas.

“The motion will provide the board of supervisors with the tools we need to hold our employees accountable if they violate that trust and lie in internal investigations,” Supervisor Kuehl added.

In Brady v. Maryland, the US Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution is required to hand over any and all evidence that would clear or exonerate a defendant charged with a crime. Exculpatory evidence includes evidence that a witness (in this case a law enforcement officer) has lied in the past. The DA’s Office keeps what is known as a “Brady List” of local law enforcement officers who have been found to have lied or acted dishonestly.

The motion will also launch an assessment of which county positions should be subject to a Brady List or the amended Civil Service Rule—“including, but not limited to, those positions with peace officer status, custodial duties, and mandated reporting responsibilities that require a high degree of honesty and directly impact public safety where lives are at stake.”

LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has been pushing for greater accountability regarding dishonest deputies. In February, an appeals court blocked Sheriff McDonnell from giving the LA County District Attorney’s Office a “Brady List” containing 300 names of sheriff’s department members who were found by the department to have engaged in dishonest activities that would qualify as exculpatory information for a defendant in a criminal case. (Those activities included making false statements, obstructing an investigation, using unreasonable force, and more.)

Ridley-Thomas and Kuehl’s motion says that “District Attorneys, Sheriffs and Police Chiefs should track and prepare “Brady Lists” to comply with their constitutionally mandated duties, to avoid the risk of liability and to protect communities and municipalities.”

A number of people who testified in support of the motion mentioned that they were concerned by recent major events involving county workers, including last month’s conviction of former Sheriff Lee Baca, who lied and obstructed a federal investigation. County probation officers were also charged after a videotaped surfaced showing officers beating a juvenile held at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar. (WitnessLA first reported this story last June.)

Daniel Heimpel, founder of the Chronicle of Social Change, pointed to a case involving LA County social workers who were charged in connection with 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez’s death at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. Heimpel noted that the county’s current civil service rules resulted in the reinstatement of one of the social workers who had been fired for (and later charged in) the boy’s torture death. The board’s push for an accountable and transparent system, “not only helps social workers do their job better but it will also help protect the children,” Heimpel said.

Merrick Bobb, the supes’ former Special Counsel providing oversight of the sheriff’s department, added that the motion is “necessary for expanding accountability and for increasing transparency,” two goals that are “critically important to maintain the integrity of the system.”

Read WLA’s previous reporting on the motion: here.


Photo by Bryan Chan/LA County Board of Supervisors.

8 Comments

  • Here’s an idea. Sheriff says we should always set the example for others to follow, right. How about we start with not promoting people who are dishonest and it has been proven, such as, they are on the Brady list or a history of a founded IA for lying. I can think of a few who should still be deputies. Now, some have bars and stars. Doubled their salary and are lier’s, only in America.

    • I like your idea, why is it that Witness LA and LA times never look into anyone above a Deputy rank. Sheriff just promoted (not even a week ago) a Captain to Commander, who has been on the DA official Brady List for many years. But who cares, lets go after line deputy who maybe made a poor judgement or found themselves in a shoot or get killed situation doing real police work.

  • I really wish somebody could go through all the history. Several of the recent executive promotions, captain to commander and above, were satisfactory or needs improvement captains last year in the ALADS Leadership Assessment – June 2016. This has probably been a great pattern of screw-ups to led us in a charge over the years, promote, promote, and promote. A deputy with that rating couldn’t write parking tickets. Where is the fairness to the men and women who work the line in any function. Look to your leaders?

    Just look at the captains that didn’t get enough info to rate. How pathetic.

    • Speaking of Leadership Assessments, how about allowing deputies to rate ALADS. Of course that would never happen, just a fleeting thought.

  • …fire employees who are dishonest.

    “The job of the peace officer simply cannot be entrusted to anyone who is not scrupulously honest,”

    LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has been pushing for greater accountability regarding dishonest deputies.

    Merrick Bobb, the supes’ former Special Counsel providing oversight of the sheriff’s department, added that the motion is “necessary for expanding accountability and for increasing transparency,” two goals that are “critically important to maintain the integrity of the system.”

    Read WLA’s previous reporting on the motion:

    BOS and Sheriff, so Max Huntsman will be doing the investigation into Pay-To-Play, and the hundreds of personnel who conspired with Tanaka to defraud the tax payers, and continue to do so, through unearned promotions via promotional test cheating, leading to theft by compensation of increased salaries, with part of the salary kicked back to Tanaka, cash at the door events, and checks issued to is Gardena Mayoral campaigns????

    not too scrupulously honest….. pretty darn dishonest….not very accountable…. maybe WLA will have a read previous reporting here: post, at some point soon.

    The thieves were very transparent about their crimes….should make things very easy to investigate…especially when they start lying, right?

    Where do you live? Santa Clarita.
    Where were you raised? The San Fernando Valley, Anelope Valley, and Santa Clarita. Where does your family live? The same places. Where do you shop? Santa Clarita. Are you politically active in Santa Clarita politics? No. We see you donated to the City of Gardena Mayoral campaign, and we have information you walked precincts there for a candidate, why? (Fill in various lies). We see following your interest in Gardena politics, you were promoted every two to four years, earning another 15 to 25 thousand dollars per promotion, can you tell us the methods you used to accomplish that? (Fill in various lies).

    Cant’t wait BOS, Sheriff, Max, WLA. Thank you for being LEADERS and cleaning these things up.

    Easy investigation for you Sheriff. They are standing RIGHT next to you.

  • It might be interesting to read about how these new “tools” are going to prevent all that lying. Because I’m pretty sure perjury and making false police reports were already against all sorts of old rules and laws. Looks like they also want to go after civil service rules, what exactly does that mean? Is all of this posturing just a way for county management to avoid responsibility for their own failures? I wonder what the unions have to say about this? The story doesn’t say, instead all we get are quotes from grandstanding politicians, pretty lazy reporting.

  • Mark Ridley-Thomas, who will investigate the BOS. Didn’t he use county funds to build a man cave in his home. Wow, that was swept under the rug. Can the BOS be fired for lying? Also, will the executives get fired when they make false statements or questions deputies during an investigation? These idiots lye to deputies to get confessions and nothing happens to them. They railroad deputies every day to look good for the Sheriff. Open you eyes Sheriff, the Department is going to pay out a lot of money for its lack of leadership.

  • Employees that lie are nothing new to any of our county departments. From Parks and Rec. to D.P.S.S. to the Sheriffs Department. Did you know we don’t drug test our doctors and nurses in Health Services? Yet private hospitals do. The County has a lot to improve on in all areas and not just the sheriffs department.

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