New LA County sheriff acknowledges ‘deputy gangs’ exist

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — The Civilian Oversight Commission released a special council report alleging law enforcement gangs are embedded within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The commission accused these so-called “deputy gangs” of running patrol stations for about 50 years — complete with their own signs and tattoos. Like street gangs that they’re sworn to bring to justice, the commission claimed the deputy gangs are violent.

These alleged deputy gang members swore allegiance to rogue units that operated independently, often utilizing their service weapons and using excessive force when it wasn’t needed and then celebrating it afterward.

The investigation took months, and 75 current and former sheriff’s deputies testified. Witnesses said the deputy gangs would intimidate colleagues who refused to join them, give orders to withhold backup to non-gang members when in the line of duty, falsify reports to protect each other, create secret rituals that glorified using violent tactics and added new tattoos to their bodies whenever they were involved in an officer-involved shooting.

The deputy gangs were scattered across the entire city, pledging allegiance to their secret cliques — some that have been around for 50 years.

They went by names like “Banditos,” “Executioners,” “Regulators,” “Spartans,” “Reapers” and “Rattlesnakes.” The report also indicated as many as 15 to 20 percent of sheriff’s deputies agreed to join a gang.

Special counsel Bert Deixler with the Civilian Oversight Commission explained the problem at a special hearing last week:

“Contrary to the statements of the prior sheriff, deputy gangs exist and operate in the department as they have for the past 50 years. They are a cancer. They harm the department generally, they harm the people who work for the department and they harm the public.”

Deixler continued: “The investigation has revealed that the gangs buy their operations, make daily life for the deputies more dangerous, non-gang members fear the power and the sanctions of the gangs.”

The special counsel included 27 recommendations for addressing the deputy gang problem at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, many of which the new sheriff, Robert Luna, has pledged to utilize.

Newly elected in November, Luna made it a campaign promise to eradicate deputy gangs, and he’s already begun taking steps to do so, like creating a new office of constitutional policing. He said this new team will study and improve the current policies, procedures and operations.

Luna has already acknowledged the fact that the deputy gangs even exist, which is something the former sheriff never did.

“The public, the community believes that this is occurring. And at the end of the day, we’re accountable to our community in the county. And until we prove otherwise, the problem exists,” Luna said.

The special counsel has asked for help from everyone to fix this issue, not just the sheriff. That includes the district attorney, county attorney and sheriff’s deputies unions — which have often roadblocked progress in the past.


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