At their Tuesday meeting, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will discuss two important decisions that were postponed on Tuesday, Sept. 24, affecting the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the county’s juvenile defense system. The board will also vote on a forensics grant for the Sheriff’s Department.
Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking Santa Clarita news alerts delivered right to your inbox.
Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina recommended on Sept. 17 that the board vote to appoint a Citizen’s Oversight Commission for the Sheriff’s Department.
The recommendation comes in the midst of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice as to whether deputies have abused inmates in county jails, according to a press release issued by Ridley-Thomas.
“The seriousness of this new investigation and the allegations of abuse that prompted it cannot be ignored,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement. “The Sheriff’s Department has long required a level of scrutiny that has been missing, and although the board only controls it’s budget, the department is there to serve the citizens of L.A. County, and that’s who should have greater oversight.”
The decision was initially on the Sept. 24 meeting agenda, but was postponed for two weeks, until Tuesday’s meeting.
If the recommendation is passed, each of the five supervisors would appoint one commission member by Oct. 15, and the board would provide funds for office space and equipment.
Ridley-Thomas has also asked the board to look into reforming the process for assigning legal defense to indigent defendants who are minors, another decision that was postponed until Oct. 8.
The contract for current juvenile indigent defense attorneys expires on Oct. 31.
Ridley-Thomas believes that paying a flat fee to these attorneys does not ensure adequate and competent legal counsel, and suggested that the board ask the CEO to determine what the costs of reform would be.
Ridley-Thomas described the issue as a “constitutional and moral imperative,” in the motion.
And while additional supervision may be in the works for the Sheriff’s Department, they are also in line to receive several grants to help improve forensic investigations and DUI prevention.
If approved by the board, the National Institute of Justice’s Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant would provide the department’s Scientific Services Bureau with $175,000 “to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science services over current operations,” according to the agenda item.
“The funding will be utilized for overtime, training opportunities, and to improve quality by complying with accreditation requirements through annual calibration services of equipment and instruments, license renewal, and laboratory supply purchases,” said Sheriff Leroy Baca in a letter to the board.
Approval of grants to fund DUI checkpoints and enforcement was also on the agenda, but will be postponed until the Oct. 15 meeting.
If approved, the more than $2.5 million in funding from the state Office of Traffic Safety and University of California at Berkeley would go toward “(reducing) the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol-involved and drug-involved traffic collisions, and (reducing) the number of hit-and-run fatality and injury collisions,” Baca said in a statement.
The grant is of special interest to the Santa Clarita Valley, because DUI checkpoints are a regular occurrence.
In a previous interview, Sgt. Richard Cohen of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station described the importance of cracking down on drunk driving.
“Over the course of the past five years, DUI collisions have claimed 11 lives and resulted in 255 injury crashes harming 363 of our friends and neighbors,” Cohen said. “If everyone planned ahead for a sober non-drinking designated drivers these numbers could be lowered to Zero.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ next meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8 and is streamed on their website. Click here to view.
For a copy of Tuesday’s full agenda and related documents, click here.
Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Santa Clarita News