Daniel Tedford, Staff Writer
Created: 05/27/2010 06:19:44 PM PDT

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will strip 99 reserve officers of their positions after an audit showed they weren’t trained properly, officials said Thursday.

A report from the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training found the department did not use certified locations and didn’t keep proper records when training 99 Level III reserve officers in 2008, according to a statement from Sheriff Lee Baca.

The officers’ certification will be stripped, but each officer will be offered the opportunity to be retrained, according to the statement.

The officers have not been used by the department since February 2009, when the investigation began, officials said.

Training officers, in an attempt to train and recruit more reserves, used locations more convenient for recruits to speed up the training process, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. All training locations must be approved by the state standards commission.

In addition, the records officers kept of those trained were sloppy and missing information, he said.

“There was some leadership changes internally, and some people involved in the bureau got a little bit carried away with recruiting and getting people certified,” Whitmore said. “Corners were cut, obviously. The leadership failed.”

Officials with the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training said the Sheriff’s Department cooperated fully with the audit and were pleased with the department’s response to the findings.

“There were some significant issues that needed to be addressed,” said Alan Deal, the executive director. “All of our requirements in terms of what we look at is laid out in our manual. There was some breakdown and some problems associated with how some of the training was being provided.”

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the deputies involved in the botched training, Whitmore said.

“If there is any disciplinary action that needs to be meted out, it certainly will be,” Whitmore said.

Whitmore said he didn’t know the motive for the training officers’ failure to follow the script but that the investigation would examine this question.

The commission’s report did not address motives for the inadequate training, Deal said.

Level III officers make up the lowest tier of reserve officers. They have limited authority and must work in support of other deputies and under the supervision of fully trained deputy sheriffs, Whitmore said.

Level III officers work for $1 a year, can be armed, and are usually used to help with crowd control, secure crime scenes and transport prisoners, Whitmore said.

The county uses 847 reserve police officers in various capacities.

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