Wednesday, April 22, 2015 – 09:00 a.m.
San Bernardino County leaders are working overtime trying to put out fires caused mainly by its Sheriff’s Department.
Fires that have, and will, cost the county’s taxpayers dearly.
On Tuesday, County Supervisors agreed to pay soon-to-be plaintiff Francis Pusok, the star of the infamous KNBC-TV beating video, $650,000 to settle all claims, without admitting any wrongdoing.
It’s most likely one of the fastest settlements in San Bernardino County history.
The plethora of law firms, that routinely defend the county in civil lawsuits, must be beside themselves right about now.
Why? There’s no big payday for them.
Pusok gets a fraction of what he could have received in a lawsuit. His lawyers make a quick lucrative payday. The county avoids costly litigation expense and a likely higher settlement amount. The sheriff’s department avoids the volatile and likely devastating deposition process.
It’s nice and tidy.
But it won’t stop federal civil rights and criminal charges, and the bad press accompanying those developments.
Now we come to the interesting “Body Camera” spin maneuver.
In case you missed it. Body Cameras have become the new magic potion to solve all ills, and stop these dastardly deeds from ever occurring again.
Yes, if they’d been wearing body cameras, this whole ordeal never would have happened.
If anyone believes this premise, then there’s probably a Turnip truck parked in front of your house.
The only problem? One has to know that an incident occurred to actually trigger looking at a particular officers recorder. That’s unless San Bernardino County is going to employ an army of personnel to personally examine each recorder on a daily basis.
But that’s a financially unappealing proposition.
Will the county make its jail deputies wear the cameras as well? That’s another important point. Especially since the hammer is about to fall on a federal investigation into allegations of deputies torturing inmates in the county jails.
In the midst of this latest turmoil, the county is also in the process of defending a plethora of civil rights lawsuits, where questionable use of force was also employed. And let’s not forget the plundered sheriff pay scandal prosecution that, late last year, sailed quietly into the night.
All of the aforementioned coming at a cost of tens of millions of dollars from the county general fund.
But the “body camera” deflection was just that. A deflection.
There’s a systemic problem in San Bernardino County. It’s too cozy!
This latest deflection, for the moment, shielded county supervisors from being forced to do their job. They will do everything humanly possible to not render harsh criticism of the Sheriff’s Department. It’s something they don’t want to do. But eventually they’ll have no choice.
Secrets settlements and coverups can only keep the dirty laundry in the closet for so long.
And with the Justice Department and ACLU in town, there’s likely much more to come.