IE Business Daily

Political Whispers
May 10, 2014

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon has only one notable comment: “It’s an isolated incident” according to news reports.


The abuse of inmates at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga is currently being investigated by the FBI. It is not a joint investigation. The FBI doesn’t perform joint investigations with agencies under scrutiny.

This past week, a Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs, all claiming physical and mental abuse including tasing of their genitals and sodomy. Yes folks, that’s what the lawsuit states. There are apparently more plaintiffs coming forward.

“Isolated” incidents do not occur over a 14 month time span. They do not occur in a paramilitary organization like a Sheriff’s Department, in a heavily video-monitored prison institution, without knowledge of persons in charge. They certainly do not occur with multiple victims.

To date, the Sheriff’s Department has fired three employees. But, the situation goes much deeper. In any organization, particularly one with the duty to enforce laws, cultures develop. Those cultures can be positive or negative. They are determined by what is either encouraged or, more often, allowed within the command structure. That includes those disciplines encouraged or allowed in the Sheriff’s Academy itself.

Dealing with the criminal element in our society is no easy task. It can test law enforcement officers mentally and physically. It can also be dangerous. This is why law enforcement officers receive rigorous and regular training to ensure their safety and that of the public. It is also the reason that law enforcement is held to a higher standard than the general population.

The sadistic behavior that has been occurring at West Valley Detention Center is appalling. While any agency the size of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is bound to get “a few bad apples,” the fact that these abuses were committed against multiple prisoners over a period longer than a year is evidence of a larger problem, a problem that extends far up the chain of command.

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