Civilian Oversight Panel Adopts Recommendations to Eradicate Deputy Gangs

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission approved the Special Counsel’s Report on Deputy Gangs and adopted all 27 recommendations. The Report and Recommendations will be sent to Sheriff Robert Luna, with the Commission’s strong recommendation that he adopt, implement, and enforce the recommendations with all deliberate speed. The report will also be sent to the Board of Supervisors to fulfill their September 2021 directive to review reports, solicit public input, and develop an implementation plan to address the issue of deputy gangs.

“We have faith that Sheriff Luna’s administration understands the damage that deputy gangs cause,” said Danielle Butler Vappie, Interim Executive Director for the Civilian Oversight Commission. “We look forward to partnering with the Sheriff’s Department, the Office of Inspector General and the Board of Supervisors to implement these recommendations and eradicate deputy gangs from the ranks. These gangs put a stain on all the positive work that is being done by honorable deputies each day.”

This report was the product of an investigation into deputy gangs, led by Special Counsel Bert Diexler and a team of pro bono attorneys. To support the investigation, the Commission hosted a total of eight special hearings that included witness testimony and public comments. The Special Counsel’s team also interviewed nearly eighty anonymous witnesses.

At today’s special hearing, Special Counsel Bert Diexler presented the report, which included findings that:

  • Confirmed the existence of deputy gangs and provided an overview;
  • Identified the current gangs and illustrated the impact these gangs have on the community and the Sheriff’s Department;
  • Listed the obstacles to eradicating deputy gangs and confirmed that eliminating gangs is constitutionally permissible; and
  • Provided 27 recommendations to eradicate deputy gangs, which fell under the categories of leadership and supervision, policies and training, re-deployments and rotations, and accountability.

Special Counsel will also be working on a supplemental report to include additional and continued feedback from the community.

Background: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to implement the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission in January 2016 with the mission to oversee and improve public transparency and accountability with respect to the Sheriff’s Department. The Commission is comprised of nine volunteer members appointed by the Board of Supervisors, with four recommended by community and other affiliated groups.

Since its formation in 2017, the Commission has been tracking the issue of deputy gangs. There is a long history of documentation on deputy gangs, including the 1992 Kolt Report, the 2012 Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence Report, the Inspector General’s Analysis into the Banditos, Loyola Law School’s 50 Years of Deputy Gangs Report, Knock LA’s Investigative Series into Deputy Gangs, and most recently the 2021 RAND Study on Understanding Subgroups.