Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2022)—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 renewing their request that it conduct a full investigation into violent contingents of deputies within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) following serious allegations of misconduct and race-based policing.
In September 2020, the Subcommittee asked the Trump Administration to investigate allegations of systemic abuses by these “criminal gangs” within LASD, but did not receive a response.
“There are troubling reports of members of these LASD gangs being involved in instances of brutality against Black people; celebrating deputy-involved shootings; and rewarding other members for breaking the law or violating LASD protocol,” the Members wrote. “As we previously requested, the Civil Rights Division must conduct a full-scale, public investigation to ensure that the largest sheriff’s department in the country operates in manner that upholds and respects federal civil rights laws.”
The LASD has a decades-long history of sworn deputies establishing unauthorized, exclusive, and secretive gangs within the Department. For nearly fifty years, the violent, lawless conduct of deputies affiliated with these gangs has led to investigations, lawsuits, and hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation costs and settlements against Los Angeles County. Since 1990, nearly $55 million in settlements have been paid related to the activities of LASD gangs, with at least $21 million of that total coming in the last decade alone.
A recent study by Loyola Law School showed a strong correlation between the presence of deputy gangs and the prevalence of deputy-involved shootings, approximately 80% of which involved Black or Latino civilians. The study also concluded that deputy gangs typically originate in low-income areas populated by racial minorities, and the people of color living in these communities are often subjected to heavy-handed, aggressive policing, as well as racial profiling and excessive use of force by police. These civil rights violations are enabled, by “extreme loyalty and a strict code of silence” between deputy gang members.
“The failure to address these deputy gangs not only undermines the safety and trust of the people they are sworn to protect—especially those of color—but also threatens equal justice under the law,” the Members added.
Click here to read the letter to the Department of Justice.