Jan. 22 (UPI) — California District Attorney Xavier Becerra announced Friday he’s opening a civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in response to allegations of excessive force and other examples of unconstitutional policing.
He accused the LASD of a having an absence of “sustained and comprehensive oversight.”
“There are serious concerns and reports that accountability and adherence to legitimate policing practices have lapsed at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” Becerra said. “We are undertaking this investigation to determine if LASD has violated the law or the rights of the people of Los Angeles County.”
He said unlike a criminal probe, the civil investigation will work to determine if there are systemic violations of constitutional rights of civilians by law enforcement officers. In addition to potential excessive force, he said the LASD has been accused of using retaliation.
He declined to offer specific examples of police misconduct, but there have been a number of police-involved killings in recent years
Becerra called for anyone with information relevant to the investigation to contact the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section.
The LASD is the country’s largest sheriff’s department, with almost 18,000 members.
According to the Youth Justice Coalition, the department killed at least 336 people since 2000.
Of the people killed by any form of law enforcement official in Los Angeles County in those 20 years, 25% were Black — more than three times their portion of the population. Fourteen percent had mental health issues.