Education Jim McDonnell LA County Board of Supervisors LASD Law Enforcement Obama Prison Violence Prevention

LA Supes Hold Discussion on LASD Oversight, Richmond’s Anti-Violence Program, Pell Grants for Prisoners, and Calexico’s Police Chief


On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors held a discussion on the final recommendations from the working group tasked with figuring out how to structure a civilian oversight panel for the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

The group spent six months working toward this final report, and held thirteen public meetings and nine town hall meetings across the county to gather community input.

Former CEO of Public Counsel and working group member, Hernan Vera, said that, in studying other counties’ oversight boards, they noted three broad powers: the ability to look into and address systemic and procedural problems within the department, to investigate individual instances of alleged misconduct and excessive use of force allegations, and to build a bridge to the community through transparency, accountability, and dialogue.

The working group voted 4-3 in favor of recommending giving subpoena power to the commission. Vera acknowledged it as the “elephant in the room” jumped right into discussing the issue.

“First, we believe at the end of this process, that this commission wouldn’t enjoy the full trust and confidence of the public without that power,” said Vera. “That was made clear to us. So much of the public testimony centered around this issue.”

Vera continued, “The majority who voted for this believed that this commission wouldn’t be able to do its job as effectively without its power…the commission itself wouldn’t be seen as truly independent without this power because everything would have to be negotiated. And the commission, bottom line, would be dependent on the generosity or good will of the sheriff’s department to get the records that it needs.”

There may have to be changes to state law, however, to make subpoena power possible. County Counsel told the board they are still looking into whether it would need to go on next year’s ballot or not.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich expressed concern over officer privacy. “We would have to ensure that anyone who has access to those records is aware of the need to keep them confidential. We’re exploring options to address that issue,” said Antonovich. “We could have confidentiality agreements drafted. And there could be penalties associated with violation of those agreements. Under the law, there’s also the Peace Officer Bill of Rights…if you violate it and breach confidentiality…there could be consequences, even misdemeanor consequences.”

Also on the working group, was LASD Undersheriff Neal Tyler, who said Sheriff Jim McDonnell was concerned about the idea of subpoena power, and thought it unnecessary.

The sheriff wants the county to hold off on trying to set up subpoena power, and first work on a memorandum of agreement (MOA), which could take as little as a couple of weeks to establish. Then, if that agreement does not live up to the level of access desired by the commission and board, subpoena power could go on the 2016 ballot.

In answer to this, Supe Mark Ridley-Thomas said that the issue must be looked at structurally and systematically, and that, respectfully, his “days of of deferring to a sheriff, elected or not…are over.”

Inspector General Max Huntsman, who is also part of the working group, says he has been trying to get an MOA in place for the Office of Inspector General for the last year and a half, and because the working group did not yet have an MOA from the Sheriff for the commission, the group had to consider subpoena power. “In order to accomplish the goals of this board, I think what’s important is complete access,” said Huntsman. “At the time we took that vote, there was no MOA on the table. We still do not have an MOA in place. I’ve been here for a year and a half, and haven’t been able to get an MOA. …In the working group, we had no option but to pursue something else that would allow us to implement that goal.”

Huntsman continued, “Subpoena power by itself does not get us access to the kind of detailed internal information that I think is absolutely critical in order to accomplish the goals of this board.”

Vera said that having subpoena power would be important for the commission to have as backup. “What we heard from cities like San Diego…is that the mere fact of having subpoena power facilitates broader access and a more effective commission,” said Vera. The subpoena power will not be needed 99% of the time, according to Vera, as the the commission will go through the MOA. “But the fact that it exists just creates more of an incentive to comply…the jurisdictions that haven’t had that, have had to work out a way of negotiating for records. And when the sheriff’s department says no, the conversation ends there.”

Among other important topics of discussion were whether undocumented immigrants could serve on the commission, as well as whether retired sworn personnel could serve as commission members, or whether that would create a conflict of interest.

No consensus was definitively reached by the board on any one topic, and no date was set to vote on the commission, but the hearing was an important step toward establishing oversight.

“It is not as if we are engaged in any revolutionary act here with respect to the establishment of an oversight commission….we are rather late to the party,” said Ridley-Thomas. “Oversight commissions exist all over the length and breadth of this country, and it’s about time that Los Angeles County got with the program.”


The city of Richmond, CA, is seeing incredible success with their unique anti-violence program, according to a new report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Just under a decade ago, the city of Richmond, CA had one of the highest homicide rates in the nation. In 2007, there were 47 gun-related homicides in the city of 106,000 people. The situation was so dire, the city authorized an unheard of new program that would identify the most likely to shoot someone or be shot, and pay them to keep out of trouble.

Four times per year, the Office of Neighborhood Safety, conceived and developed by DeVone Boggan, selects 50 candidates under 25-years-old to take part in an 18-month program. Participants receive a monthly stipend between $300 and $1000 for nine of those months, along with mentoring, education, and other services.

In 2013, 6 years after the launch of ONS, there were 15 homicides per 100,000 residents—the lowest number Richmond had seen in 33 years. And the homicide rate continues to drop.

And those participants, most likely to shoot or be shot, are, for the most part, staying alive and out of trouble: 94% of the 68 men to complete the program are still alive, and 79% have not been arrested or charged with a firearm-related crime since.

(WLA has previously written about Richmond’s Police Chief Chris Magnus, who has vastly improved officer morale and the police-community relationship.)

Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy has more on the report. Here’s a clip:

The conclusion was positive: “While a number of factors including policy changes, policing efforts, an improving economic climate, and an overall decline in crime may have helped to facilitate this shift, many individuals interviewed for this evaluation cite the work of the ONS, which began in late 2007, as a strong contributing factor in a collaborative effort to decrease violence in Richmond.”

As evidence, the study cites the life-changing effect on fellows. Ninety-four percent of fellows are still alive. And perhaps just as remarkable, 79 percent have not been arrested or charged with gun-related offenses during that time period.

“While replication of the Fellowship itself may be more arduous because of the dynamic leadership associated with the current model, the framework of the Fellowship could be used to improve outcomes for communities across the country,” the study’s authors wrote. “The steps taken to craft programming developed with clients in mind, and being responsive to their needs and the needs of the community, can serve as a model.”


On Friday the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch are slated to reveal A 3-5 year plan to give federal Pell Grants—college grants for low-income students—to thousands of prisoners across the nation, reversing a 1993 ban on giving such grants to inmates.

Through the grants, prisoners will receive up to $5,775 per year to spend on tuition, books, and other education expenses.

The hope is that, by opening up access to education for prisoners, recidivism rates will drop, saving states and the federal government piles of money in the long run.

The Wall Street Journal’s Josh Mitchell and Joe Palazzolo have the story. Here’s a clip:

Prisoners received $34 million in Pell grants in 1993, according to figures the Department of Education provided to Congress at the time. But a year later, Congress prohibited state and federal prison inmates from getting Pell grants as part of broad anticrime legislation, leading to a sharp drop in the number of in-prison college programs. Supporters of the ban contended federal aid should only go to law-abiding citizens.

Between the mid-1990s and 2013, the U.S. prison population doubled to about 1.6 million inmates, many of them repeat offenders, Justice Department figures show. Members of both parties—including President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky—have called for a broad examination of criminal justice, such as rewriting sentencing guidelines.

A 2013 study by the Rand Corp. found that inmates who participated in education programs, including college courses, had significantly lower odds of returning to prison than inmates who didn’t.

Some congressional Democrats have proposed lifting the ban. Meanwhile, administration officials have indicated they would use a provision of the Higher Education Act that gives the Education Department the authority to temporarily waive rules, such as the Pell-grant ban, as part of an experiment to study their effectiveness.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are expected to announce the program, which likely would last three to five years to yield data on recidivism rates, at a prison in Jessup, Md., on Friday. Key details aren’t yet clear, such as which institutions and what types of convicts would be allowed to participate.


The LA Times’ Joel Rubin has a long read profile on Calexico Police Chief Michael Bostic, a former LAPD Assistant Chief, who took the helm of an agency that was the subject of an FBI investigation, and was drowning in officer misconduct scandals. Chief Bostic has been very vocal about problems plaguing the department he says he has come to fix.

In April, Chief Bostic asked the DOJ to step in and help him clean up the border city’s police department. The DOJ, via its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, said it would provide extensive training and would help build a community policing unit over the next three years.

Bostic does have critics, however, including some who question the hefty paycheck he receives for leading a rather small department.

Here’s a clip from Rubin’s story:

Since arriving in Calexico, Bostic has unabashedly presented himself as a savior, promising residents he will rid their Police Department of “the cancer living within it” — a refrain during his first months on the job.

“These people are so desperate for help,” he said. “The LAPD has given me a unique set of skills and training that you can’t get many places…. I know exactly what to do to fix this place.”

Bostic hasn’t shied away from such grand statements, touting the major role he played in reforming the LAPD. Although he did have a hand in trying to push through changes that followed some of the LAPD’s worst episodes, the reality of his time there is more modest.

In the wake of the videotaped beating by officers of Rodney King, then-Chief Daryl Gates assigned Bostic to review the department’s use-of-force and training procedures. In his role, Bostic was critical of some problems he identified but wasn’t in a position to make significant changes himself.

Bostic testified as the government’s use-of-force expert during the state trial against the officers. Defense attorneys picked him apart on cross-examination, however, forcing him to admit he had formed his opinion of the beating after only a few viewings of the tape. After acquitting the officers, jurors said that they did not find Bostic credible.

He climbed the ranks to become an assistant chief, at times running the department when the chief was away. But after Bostic clashed with William Bratton, who was hired as chief in 2002, Bratton demoted him and exiled him from his inner circle.

Soon after he took over in Calexico, Bostic said he contacted the FBI, relaying concerns he had about some of his officers. Then, on a morning in late October, dozens of agents descended on the police station, seizing computer hard drives and documents.

FBI officials acknowledged the ongoing investigation but declined to comment on its scope or focus. Bostic, for his part, has refused to elaborate on the probe. But it seems to have struck a sensitive chord with him. Twice after the raid, Bostic choked back tears when answering reporters’ questions about the investigation.

“There could be nothing more embarrassing than to have your department under that kind of scrutiny…. It was literally the most disappointing day in all my years of policing,” he said at one news conference after composing himself.

The problems, Bostic said, stemmed from half a dozen or so officers, who also held sway in the police officers union. Bostic said they effectively ran the department, threatening other officers with misconduct investigations if they got out of line and running the department’s $450,000 annual budget for overtime to nearly $1.5 million.

“They believed they were untouchable. They still believe it, even since I’ve arrived. They’ve been protected for so long.”


  • I came across this article on a military website. To all the liberal politicians,prosecutors, journalists, POG department brass and idealistic “civilian oversight” folks who will judge the actions of law enforcement without any real world experience, and would have the public believe that those who do the Lord’s work kill or use force to satisfy some sadistic racist urges should read this and take it to heart. It provides some insight and perspective into what actually goes through a warrior’s mind before, during and after the moment of truth.

    Killing a Man
    July 17, 2014 by Special Guest ~ Leave A Comment

    It’s not that you think it won’t happen, but maybe you just aren’t quite anticipating it when it does happen. I always thought I would know when the moment was coming… like the men who stormed Normandy. They knew they were going to kill someone that day. They knew as they were crossing the English Channel that they were going to fire their weapon, and chances were that they would find their mark at some point. They knew that, and were probably prepared for that to some extent.

    When you button hook that corner, in what you assumed was a dry hole, and you see him standing there… you don’t have time to think about it, to contemplate philosophy, right or wrong, or is there a God? The left forearm engages, lifting the front end of the rifle while the right hand tightens around the pistol grip and the thumb moves to the selector switch. The eyes… the eyes move to center mass of the target. You don’t look in his eyes and see his soul like they portray in the movies. It is a reflex as old as mankind itself, you see a threat, and you eliminate the threat.

    The guy is scared out of his mind though. You realize this in retrospect, but even though he had that shitty AK-47 in his hands, he never stood a chance. He was terrified of the situation he found himself in. From the moment he felt the over pressure from that little strip of hydrogel, 100 mile-per-hour tape, and triple strand detonation chord, he knew he was fucked. He maybe had time to let the adrenaline flood his body, but not much else.546048_796578573691169_1976783349_n-2

    Adrenaline affects both parties though. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, the supply of oxygen and glucose to my muscles and brain increased, my blood vessels and air passages dilated, and the muscles of the iris contracted to allow my pupils to expand. Kill or be killed, right? Something like that. Human nature.

    My pointer finger had already wrapped around the trigger. It didn’t ask permission from my brain, it was just there. Was I really about to take a life? I know one thing; I sure as fuck don’t have time to ponder that question. The holographic red circle was on his chest; just above the soviet style ammunition rack he was wearing. The intermediate phalange instinctively squeezed the trigger, the selector switch having already been forced to the twelve o’clock position.

    One round, then the second impacted him, center mass… just as I had been trained. An exhale of breath, an aggressive step forward, and with out even a chance to think about the implications, a third round exited the fourteen inch barrel and impacted the maxillary bone, just barely missing the eye ball itself.

    What the fuck? Is this the apex of the experience that can be summarized as taking a life? I just separated a soul from it’s human body, and now I am almost on top of the body, dumping more rounds into his chest… because that’s what I should do? Make sure the threat is eliminated… right? Fuck, now I have to think about the implications of my actions as I make the call that there is one enemy killed in action, building four.

    Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. “Though shalt not kill” floods my conscious, will I be denied at the gates of Heaven? Will I have a seat in the great hall of Valhalla? He had a weapon, right? I immediately suppress these thoughts; I need to continue to clear. Keep moving. Don’t be a bitch. Millions have taken a life before you, you aren’t special, continue to clear. If you didn’t shoot him, he would have shot you. Or maybe he would have just stood there like a bitch, and you could have taken him down with out taking his life. Maybe. Rangers don’t live in the world of “maybe.” Do, or do not.

    The noise in my ear says that the building is secure, my squad leader glances at me with a smirk. First kill. I know that is exactly what he is thinking. The body in the corner is lifeless. A pool of crimson surrounds him. That is my doing, like it or not. What the fuck did you expect? That you were never going to pull the trigger? You said you wanted this, now you have it. Fucking deal with it. He was a bad guy after all.

    Well, the shoot house back on Hunter is never going to be the same… that much is for sure. At least it wasn’t one of your own guys. Death is a part of life; you didn’t do anything outside of what was natural. Man goes to war, man takes life as needed.

    I think about that night from time to time. I don’t have nightmares about it, I just think about it. It’s something I would rather not think about if I were being completely honest. It is what it is though, right? Maybe I’m not as strong as my fellow Rangers. Maybe I’m the same as them, I don’t know. It is what it is. I guess I’ll just keep… on keeping on… I guess. If you were wondering, would I do it again? Yeah, I probably would. I haven’t been presented with the opportunity, but I would. I mean, I already did it once… so what’s the point in getting all hung up about it if I have to do it again? All sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord, right?

  • I trust you are not talking about unarmed citizens who don’t pose a danger, yet they are shot in the chest, shot in the back and shot in the head.

  • Local “activist” Patrice Colures and now a George Sorros employee and anarchist, in action. She is in the black/white striped shirt. She sold out for the money. I don’t want to see her mug on local news or quotes from her in the Times. She has proven herself to be a racist and anarchist, she has nothing to say that I want to hear.–Black-Lives-Matter-meeting-erupts-in-calls-to-violence-burn-everything-down-rise-up-and-shut-sh-t-down-


  • C: (toss this its just a msg – I show my posting as #3 on my device, but not showing up on site? Gremlins?)


    Dear “They Say,”

    Due to technical difficulties (Merlin the cat threw up on the computer) I was a little slow in getting to some of the comments Saturday.. (No, sadly, I’m not kidding. He threw up on/in some other interesting places as well while I was away for the afternoon. Neither Merlin nor I was terribly cheered by this development. Nor was the laptop.)

    The perils of a technocracy. (And cats.)

    Happy Sunday.


  • @#2, ever been in a shooting? Be happy to talk about mine. How about we talk about something the social justice cowards will never talk about, the murder of another cop at the hands of another Black suspect. Happened yesterday in Memphis. When will we hear our president speak on this or our AG…never. How about you with your simple minded post that happens what 1/100th of the time some young thug does it to some kid in some ghetto. Go ahead, teach me something.

  • @6. You are an very angry man who has been called out and checked by several contributors before. Your soapbox is cemented in the the arena of bitterness and “black suspects only” You are not the only LEO who has been in a shooting. That is what is so good about WLA. You don’t know who or what the occupation of the author is, in any post. The days of lying cops are coming home to roost. I can’t begin to count them caught on video. From the picturesque hills in San Bernardino through the Cowboy State Of Texas & Oklahoma to the Southeast state of South Carolina. Murderers of LEO’S should all go on Death Row. Good and bad comes in all demographics and occupations.That includes Cops and Social Justice Advocates. May you heal inwardly. ALL LIVES MATTERS PERIOD

  • #8 > Don’t forget about the riverfront city of Cincinnati and the College Cop (really?) He forgot that he was wearing a body cam.

  • The point is 8,9, and 10 is why is there no conversation about this. You could think what you want of me, I could care less, angry, not really, more saddened at the pathetic left side of the planet who truly hides the truth as often as they can and lackeys like you who think you can quiet me. Best partner I ever had was Black and feels same as I do. Pres and last AG with their disdain of law enforcement pretty much let Blacks know cops were not their friends. Now 6/7% of the population responsible for about 70% of cop shooting deaths this year and over the last decade over 50%. Simple question is where’s the outrage, hell even a conversation about it. I’m no racist, not even close but guys like you think bringing up the facts and pointing it out is wrong, why?

  • Your typical grey boy statement of “best partner I had was Black”… a dead giveaway, actually says what you don’t.

    You don’t have to SAY “I’m not racist” if you are not, ie Mark Fuhrman. No one called you a racist. You did

  • Two more cops cut down by felonious gunfire this week, wonder what the suspects look like? Feel better now?

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