County Report brings attention to how department handles citizens’ complaints.
Special Counsel Merrick J. Bobb, along with staff at the Police Assessment Resource Center released an April report that looked into six LA County Sheriff’s Stations: Century, Compton, Lakewood, Palmdale, Pico Rivera, and Santa Clarita.
In the report, they analyzed the station’s response to citizen complaints, Unit Level Investigations, and they drew shooting and use of force tables.
The Santa Clarita station was noted in the report as having experienced “biased investigations” into citizen complaints. The report says “At the Santa Clarita station in particular, the tone of investigative summaries did not always reflect appropriate impartiality and balance.”
The report goes on to list three examples of complaints that cited deputies being rude or otherwise discourteous. Those particular incidents, the reports says, were investigated on the grounds of procedure; without questioning the involved deputies’ behavior.
Commander Cecil Rhambo of the LA County Sheriff’s Department said that there are several layers citizens’ complaints go through.
“We have probably one of the most progressive compliant processes,” Commander Rhambo said. “If a citizen really looked into how we get all our complaints, especially with the volume, I think that they’d be surprised at how thorough we really are.”
This includes the massive database that all complaints are logged into.
He went on to say that the allegations are being looked into.
“We’re always open to doing things better…we welcome outside scrutiny, and if there’s any way we can improve how we provide service out there and how we handle citizens’ complaints, we’re open to that.”
Because the report reflects the opinions and the interpretations its’ author, it is therefore not necessarily destined to be an end-all evaluation of the Sheriff’s Department.
The report was conceived with the idea that it would provide the County with a way to monitor various actions the Sheriff’s Department takes with citizens.
Gail Ortiz, spokeswoman for the City of Santa Clarita, said that the City is committed to providing a high level of customer service at the Sheriff’s department. “We will be looking at this report and examining it in detail. If there are areas where the Sheriff’s department can improve its services, then we will be happy to employ the resources to make sure that happens.”