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LA Sheriff Department will release data on use-of-force allegations, deputy discipline

Shortly after his swearing in, new L.A. Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he's happy to hear about the White House's plan to use federal funding to supply body cameras to officers.
Erika Aguilar/ KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he will soon release information on officers involved in shootings and information on how they're disciplined. He will not release their identities, however.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he will soon publicize how often officers shoot suspects, how often they are disciplined, and how often the department receives complaints about excessive use of force. 

McDonnell’s decision comes on the heels of a report from the county’s Inspector General blasting the department for not for providing the information.

Inspector General Max Huntsman said when he looked at big city law enforcement agencies, the sheriff's department ranked the worst when it comes to releasing information about officer misconduct.  LAPD, New York, Chicago and San Diego were better, according to his report, which will be delivered to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Huntsman questioned why the department wasn't publishing regular statistics when so many other large law enforcement agencies do.

McDonnell responded immediately after the OIG report was made public, saying his department would distribute the data online, so the public can access it. The data will include the number and nature of officer-involved shootings, use-of-force claims, citizen complaints, and officer conduct that results in discipline. It will not name the officers.

A sheriffs spokesperson said the department hopes to have the data up in the next six months.

McDonnell has long said that while he is for a transparent department, he does not support making personnel records public.

Huntsman disagrees, and has for months argued he needs access to those records to effectively serve as the county's watchdog over the department.

The report is a regular address McDonnell and Huntsman provide to county supervisors on pending reforms.

All of those reforms stem from the 2012 Blue Ribbon Commission report that recommended dozens of changes to the sheriff's department. McDonnell served on that commission, which met long before he was elected L.A. County Sheriff.

While many reforms have been made over the past two years, several recommendations are still pending.

A few of them involve equipment upgrades at the jails, such as body scanners, surveillance cameras,and an electronic system for logging inmate requests and complaints.

The sheriff's department is currently testing a pilot program using iPads to take inmate requests and complaints, which they said is working well. The program is meant to cut the current backlog of paper forms from inmates.