WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Jimmy Gomez, Vice Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting an investigation into the actions of a violent contingent of deputies at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) who adhere to white supremacist ideologies, belong to “criminal gangs,” and engage in an “aggressive style of policing” motivated by racism.

“The allegations of abusive behavior by these criminal gangs within the LASD are deeply disturbing.  If true, they represent egregious violations of the civil rights of the residents of the communities subjected to their violence and to the deputies who oppose these heinous practices,” wrote the Members.  “The Civil Rights Division should investigate these allegations of systemic abuses.”

There is a long history of white supremacist gang infiltration in the ranks of LASD, dating from 1971.  In the 1980s, these gangs proliferated throughout the LASD “at overwhelmingly white sheriff’s stations that were islands in Black and Latino immigrant communities.”  They have been characterized as “powerful forces with the sheriff’s department who beat and harass local residents and, at times, actively work to intimidate other nonaffiliated officers.”

Los Angeles County has paid out “roughly $55 million in settlements” in nearly 60 cases related to these gang-affiliated deputies and their violations of civil rights.  Nearly 30 years later, these gangs continue to attract younger deputies entering the LASD.

“We request that your office immediately open an investigation into the LASD to determine whether the civil rights of the public and other LASD employees have been violated,” added the Members.  “The rule of law cannot abide such lawless behavior from the men and women sworn to protect our communities.”

Click here to read today’s letter.