MALIBU—On Monday, May 8, Malibu City Council shared opposition to a new plan aimed to address deputy gangs in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. They all voted unanimously against the proposal and plans on sending a letter to the Board of Supervisors detailing their opposition.
Back in February the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission issued a report revealing evidence that deputy gangs exists in the police department stating that these groups, “engaged in egregious conduct such as violations of law, the excessive use of force, [and] threats to the public or department members” — and deputy cliques, which include both gangs and other “exclusionary subgroups.”
One of the plans to help address this issue was proposed during the city council meeting where the department would rotate deputies between stations at a cadence of no less than every five years. Other recommendations were also proposed.
“We believe that rotating the deputies currently assigned to the sheriff’s Malibu/Lost Hills Station will disrupt the strong bonds and relationships that local deputies have built, which have been critical to our station’s success,” the council’s letter reads. “By requiring deputies to be reassigned every five years, this recommendation would be depriving our community of experienced and trusted law enforcement personnel with the specific institutional knowledge required to effectively serve the unique and diverse needs of our community.”
According to the report that was published by the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission which designed to oversee the LASD, deputy gangs have been operating in various neighborhoods for the past 50 years who are primarily working in predominantly working class and minority neighborhoods. Some of these groups include the Banditos, Executioners, Regulators, Spartans, Grim Reapers, Rattlesnakes and Vikings.
The report states that among the 80 or so people interviewed, “several witnesses would only testify anonymously and some did so remotely, using a voice distortion device out of fear of physical or professional retaliation. Several witnesses who had agreed to testify withdrew, often the night before the proposed testimony, out of similar fears.”
These gangs recruit male deputy sheriffs based on their ethnicity and willingness to engage in violence and coverups according to the report.
“Some of these groups have engaged in acts of violence, threatened acts of violence, placed fellow Deputies at risk of physical harm, engaged in acts celebrating officer-invaded shootings, and created a climate of physical fear and professional retribution to those who would speak publicly about the misconduct of such groups,” the report reads.
“Deputy Cliques that evolve into Deputy Gangs meet the definition of “law enforcement gang” in California Penal Code Section 13670. The problems they cause in the Department, however, go beyond their “gang-like” behavior. Deputy Cliques are rooted in secrecy and exclusivity. They undermine the Department’s leadership and supervision, foster insubordination, and are detrimental to the morale of other deputies and staff by exercising power and decision making that is fundamentally inconsistent with the para-military, chain of command structure of law enforcement agencies such as the Department. By exercising influence ordinarily reserved for supervisors and management, such as controlling assignments, schedules, and promotions, their existence within stations, bureaus and units of the Department violates fundamental principles of professional policing. But Deputy Cliques, whether they meet the definition of “law enforcement gangs” must be eradicated as they are the seeds from which Deputy Gangs develop,” the report included.
Malibu City Council’s decision comes after multiple groups have been urging cities in Los Angeles county to send similar letters. These groups include the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the union representing deputies.
Canyon News contacted Sheriff Robert G. Luna who is the Sheriff of Los Angeles County and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs for a statement on the matter but did not hear back before print.