At the Civilian Oversight Commission’s monthly meeting last Thursday, LA County Inspector General Max Huntsman expressed concern that the LA County Sheriff’s Department is still failing to publish data on citizen complaints and other important information in a timely fashion. The sheriff’s department launched an online data sharing project in 2015 after a 2014 report by Inspector General Max Huntsman pointed to other law enforcement agencies’ comprehensive public data sharing practices and recommended that the LASD follow suit by including data on officer-involved shootings, use-of-force, complaints, and discipline.
Huntsman told the LA Times’ Maya Lau that he has been urging department leaders to increase accountability and transparency by regularly posting updated data on all uses of force, as well as complaints and discipline data. Huntsman told Lau he believes he’s being “slow-walked” by LASD officials.
In response, an LASD statement released Friday said the department’s plans to increase the data shared publicly have been stymied by shortages of staff and outdated technology, but the department is “committed” to doing better.
Huntsman requested that the oversight commission put pressure on the LASD to implement all of the recommendations from his 2014 report, including listing information on non-lethal uses of force—like kicks, canine bites, and head strikes with weapons, as well as the resulting injuries. The report also recommended the public release of data on complaints against sheriff’s department members, including the type of employee, type of complaint, information on the investigation and its findings, and any “corrective actions.”
On the same day that Huntsman was calling out the sheriff’s department for its data sharing efforts, the inmate advocacy group Dignity and Power Now held a press conference announcing an attempted suicide at LA’s Twin Towers jail. An inmate was reportedly found Wednesday with clothing wrapped around his neck. The man was treated at a hospital and survived. The group slammed the department for allegedly failing to notify inmates’ families and the public about critical incidents. In March, Dignity and Power Now started a protest after four LA County inmates died during a nine-day period. In total, seven inmates have died in LA County custody this year. Dignity and Power Now is calling for the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission to be given the power to subpoena documents as part of its oversight of the LASD.
Photo: First meeting of the Civilian Oversight Commission for The LA County Sheriff’s Department.