Your guide to Measure A, which would allow L.A. County supervisors to oust sheriff’s deputies who abuse their power
When the California legislature finally acted on the governor’s and the California voters’ expressed goal of putting into law a constitutional measure that would take over the law enforcement function from the county sheriff and transfer it to state officials, it did not do so by way of a single vote.
That wasn’t surprising given the nature of the proposal. The measure contained a clause that would have essentially allowed for the establishment of the Department of Peace Officers Standards and Training, a new entity authorized to govern the hiring, firing, and training of deputies in a variety of law enforcement jobs. The measure would have also granted the new entity the discretion to determine how deputies were to perform their jobs and provided for the Department to have the power to suspend the powers of a sheriff’s office employee. It would have given the Department the power to have deputies arrest people at their homes without a warrant if they were unable to produce a driver’s license or other identification at the time, it would have allowed for local law enforcement agencies to discipline employees of their departments, and it would have allowed the Department to investigate and prosecute any department members or employees who violated department rules or engaged in other misconduct.
The measure would have done more than these six things. It would have granted the new entity the power to appoint three deputies to the office of sheriff in lieu of the sheriff, it would have given those three deputies the power to appoint a fourth sheriff, and it would have given the Department the power to adopt a rules and regulations regime and require it to receive reports from the sheriff’s office prior to taking any action.
These changes were not passed along party lines and were not accompanied by any meaningful reforms. For example, they had no chance of making any deputies more safe at work or safer. They certainly did not make any deputies less prone to violence. They did, however, give the people at the top of the law enforcement hierarchy the ability to choose between a bad sheriff and a bad deputy.
Despite the apparent intent of the measure, there was absolutely no reason to believe that public safety was enhanced. A Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies shot a suspect four times in the head after he resisted being handcuffed in a public parking lot. Yet a “deputy-friendly” change in the law would make things better.