LA County Seal

By Sarah Favot, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 01/12/16 – 9:26 PM PST |

After hearing comment from dozens of activists in opposition, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday that retired law enforcement officials may be eligible to sit on a commission that will oversee the Sheriff’s Department.

The board approved an ordinance on the formation and responsibility of the nine-member Civilian Oversight Commission.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich voted against the proposal crafted by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis.

Solis acknowledged the proposal is not perfect, but said it was a step forward and it could be improved upon.

“We may not get it exactly right at this moment, but that’s not to say that we’re not willing to fight to make it better,” Solis said.

Dozens of activists argued that retired law enforcement officials shouldn’t be eligible to sit on the commission, arguing that the police could not effectively police itself.

Under the approved proposal, law enforcement must be retired for at least one year before being eligible to serve.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said she did not believe that retired deputy sheriffs should sit on the commission. But she said she was the only supervisor who held that opinion. She also said even though she disagreed with one aspect of the proposal, she would vote to support it.

Kuehl said she believed the commission will be independent.

“I know that this entire board wants there to be a strong, independent, obnoxious voice, really, for the community,” she said.

The board voted in December 2014 to create a civilian oversight commission following years of documented corruption and civil rights abuses of inmates by deputies. A working group that made about 50 recommendations to the board in July on the role and responsibilities of the commission had supported banning retired deputy sheriffs from serving on the commission and had recommended that the board ask voters to approve a County Charter amendment to give the commission subpoena power.

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