LA County Jail LASD

More Training and a “Change in Culture” Means Fewer Serious Uses of Force in LA County Jails, Sheriff’s Report Says

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

Serious uses of force against inmates are down in LA County’s Inmate Reception Center, Men’s Central Jail, and Twin Towers Correctional Facility, according to a report the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department presented to the LA County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The three jail facilities are subject to monitoring as part of the terms of a class action settlement addressing rampant jail abuses.

In December 2014, Los Angeles County officials agreed to a legal settlement that meant the behavior of LA County Sheriff’s deputies and others working inside the LA County jails would be subject to monitoring by a trio of outside experts. The ACLU and others filed the federal class-action lawsuit, Rosas v. Baca in January 2012.

The lawsuit alleged that then-Sheriff Lee Baca and his top staff condoned a widespread pattern of abuse by deputies against inmates in the county’s jails. The ACLU and company brought the suit in the name of Alex Rosas and Jonathan Goodwin who, according to the complaint, “were savagely beaten and threatened with violence by deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.” Rosas and Goodwin were only two of the dozens of inmates whose reported abuse was described in the complaint.

The terms of the agreement went into effect on July 1, 2015, and served as a roadmap to reforming outdated LASD use-of-force policies and practices.

The trio of jails is inspected once every quarter.

According to the report, presented by Assistant Sheriff Kelly Harrington, there were only two of the highest level—Category 3—uses of force, which are handled by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. (Category 3 force involves admittance to a hospital, broken bones, head strikes, and other serious injuries.)

“Those were those use of force issues that used to occur quite frequently in the jails, which are no longer occurring,” Harrington said. “There are no allegations of multiple deputies being involved in beating of inmates or using force to retaliate against inmates…We continue to improve on our tactics. We continue to improve on our training.”

Neither of the Category 3 incidents resulted in criminal investigations into whether custody deputies engaged in misconduct or violated the department’s policy on use of force, Harrington said.

Turnaround on a use of force case like that is around one year, according to Harrington, because of staffing issues in Internal Affairs. The limit for administrative investigations is one year, and “they take it very close to the year” limit, according to Harrington. “But they’re not turning down investigations related to use of force,” the assistant sheriff added.

Both Harrington and Inspector General Max Huntsman attributed the improvement to better (and more) training.

“Category 3 force—broken bones—is something we’re not seeing in the jail,” Huntsman said. This shows that “a well-operating jail system doesn’t need to use that kind of force, almost regardless of what inmates do, because of the available resources.”

Huntsman and Harrington agreed that the culture in the jail system had undergone a significant change since the bad old days. “I think that’s a direct result of training,” Huntsman said. “I do think we could use a lot more training.”
The Inspector General suggested hiring a “separate track of custody deputies” to be trained “fully in custody-related matters, including de-escalation.”

“I think there’s room for improvement, but I think the training we’re having is excellent in terms of what it used to be,” Hunstman said.

Harrington reported that 3,699 custody division deputies have received the new training, but that many deputies identified for “refresher training” needed to complete the courses, which launched in November 2017.

In addition, Harrington suggested that “an individual that is receiving the appropriate medical care and mental health care, and an individual that is [involved in] programming, is less likely to be involved in force incidents because they have hope. They have something to look forward to.”

The road to improvement has been challenging, Harrington said, and has involved major collaboration with other county agencies. “It’s difficult because of the rise of the mental health population in the jails,” Harrington said. “That’s where most of our uses of force are occurring. And that’s because of medication management and the unstable environment that we receive those individuals in.”

The sheriff’s department has completed 101 of the 104 provisions included in the Rosas implementation plan, according to Harrington.

Three final provisions are still in the process of completion due to technology problems, Harrington said.

13 Comments

  • Taylor…, It’s Rise not Rice.. Proofreading 101. New breed of journalist where the little things like facts, spelling, context and accuracy don’t matter.

    Taylor, where’s the stats on Inmate assaults against deputies?? Pretty relevant info that you should have included is this type of piece, don’t you think????

  • “Change the culture” are really code words for “intimidate, threaten and make employees too afraid to do anything for fear of being disciplined, put under investigation and fired for using force.”

    You make folks so afraid to react or do anything for fear of the dreaded Monday morning post-game critique, you get the desired results of lower force numbers but increased incidents of assault on staff due to hesitation, timidity and fear of reprisal by an unkind administration.

    The FBI, DOJ and ACLU found a willing and duplicitous conspirator in the LASD executive ranks who were eager to use the tactics purportedly used by the jail guards to control the prisoners. That is, use intimidation to control the masses by making examples of those who step out of line and if evidence doesn’t exist of a crime of or policy violation make it up.

  • Jim: Because I’m typing on my phone. I’m not a journalist typing on a computer with spelling and grammar check. I’m not a journalist with the responsibility of putting out accurate, unbiased and thorough pieces that have a serious impact on society.

    Just sayin

    • “Because I’m typing on my phone.” How lame & weak is that?

      Any “smart phone” can make adjustments. Gee whiz!

      Just sayin

  • Fewer serious uses of force……exponentially more assaults on jail personnel. They leave that part out though…

    • No, liberals don’t give a damn about jail staff. As long as their precious criminal are having their way with us, everything is just fine.

  • I brought up a very valid point about accuracy and context when it comes to inmates assaulting deputies. I used a simple misspelling, something we all do, by Taylor to get my point started.

    Then look at the Liberal Cowards, Jim and Still Laughing, hop all over me for capitalizing inmates.

    It’s all they got. Do they address the issue I brought up?? Fuck no they don’t, cause they’re spineless cowards.

    So deputies are getting gassed, kicked, spat on and punched, and all Still Laughing and Jim can do is criticize me for capitalizing the word Inmate. Taylor is the journalist, she needs to get that shit right.

    Straight cowards, all of them

    • Allow Taylor to do her thing and you do your thing. Your nitpicking is “Chicken Shit” along with your defensive deflection. You have yet to bring any original solution or any original issue. You wait until the game starts, then you point out minute details. Hundreds of readers can see right through you. I would love to see your written reports.

  • My reports are accurate, concise and 100% unbiased. That’s why my last 20 evals have been “Outstanding”. Taylor’s are just the opposite.

    If you’ve read ALL my posts, you moron, you will see my proposals and opinions on how do deal with the economy, Immigration, crime and punishment.

    It is you sir, and everyone knows it, who snipes and offers absolutely nothing of value.

    You are a Fucking coward and you know it.

  • Well Taylor I have to agree with ownership. Where are the stats for the other side if the coin. Let’s give All The Facts and not just the ones that fit your agenda. I also agree with Hmmm. Deputies are scared to do their job and doubt everything they do for fear of discipline or being fired. In my 32 years the department has never been this bad. I know of many deputies who would rather have Banacka back. Morale was not as bad.

  • Yes, uses of force are down because deputies are afraid of doing anything. Department members are fully aware of all the framing of deputies by IAB and ICIB for crimes and violations personnel did not commit, (one) to send a message to deputies of what they will be subjected to, and (two), to show stats of deputies’ arrests for political purposes.

    I know of a deputy who was framed into a crime he did not commit, and last month just prior to a jury trial, the case was dismissed by the court. The superior court ruled, there was no physical evidence the deputy committed a crime, and the department violated the constitutional rights of such deputy, specifically the 6th and the 14th. The deputy was looking at three years of state prison.

    Needless to say, the DA deputy threw a tantrum disagreeing with the judge, at which time the judge urged the crooked deputy DA to take it to the Second District court of appeals. At which time that judge was able to dismiss the deputy. I ordered the public record of that hearing, pretty scandalous to say the least. The preliminary hearing is as juicy as the motion to dismiss hearing.

    It is a well-known case internally, but did you see a press conference by the sheriff and the DA announcing the case was dismissed because they conspired to prejudice the constitutional rights of the said deputy? I am sure and hope there is a major Federal Lawsuit in the near future to expose the ongoing corruption. Stay tuned.

  • Joe: Good for you for following that case (without revealing too much can you say what the case is?)

    Everyone has a boss. Most employees like to please the boss. However, when the boss is having little issues spun up to something much bigger on a regular basis, even before he sat his behind in that leather chair, then it is time to have an outside look in to try to right the wrongs and ensure fairness in EVERYTHING we do.

    I hope the person involved in the case you described can get that ball rolling!

Leave a Comment