Days after the county watchdog asked dozens of delegates to reveal their tattoos and answer questions about gangs in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, employee unions responded with a formal labor complaint as well as a lawsuit filed in state court.
In a 19-page complaint filed Friday, Assn. to the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff and Professional Peace Officer Assn. jointly accused the county of disrupting the collective bargaining process, saying the county created a new working condition when Sheriff Robert Luna threatened to discipline or fire anyone who did not cooperate fully with the investigation. general inspection of the inspector.
Then, late Monday, Assn. against the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff filed a lawsuit, arguing that ordering deputies to cooperate with the inspector general’s investigation and show their tattoos was unconstitutional, and would violate the ban. 4th Amendment unreasonable searches as well as California’s constitutional right to protection from self-incrimination and 5th Amendment rights of privacy.
Both actions are intended to prevent the county from using the threat of disciplinary action or dismissal to force delegates to answer questions about their tattoos or reveal the names of others with tattoos.
While the Los Angeles County Employee Relations Commission – listed as a recipient of the union’s complaint last week – has no enforcement authority, a union attorney explained that the commission has the ability to bring decision, which the court can then enforce.
“The Office of the Inspector General exists primarily to ensure that members of the Sheriff’s Department follow the law and treat everyone fairly,” said Richard Pippin, Assn. to the Los Angeles Deputy Chief of Police, told The Times in an email. “With this lawsuit, ALADS is simply trying to make sure [the inspector general] operate in a similar way when dealing with our members.”
Late Monday, the county declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. The Sheriff’s Department confirmed that officials were aware of the labor complaint, but reiterated that the investigation was being conducted by an outside entity, the Office of the Inspector General.
After learning about the lawsuit, Inspector General Max Huntsman – the county watchdog a series of letters from someone raised the legal controversy – did not respond to the details of the application, but instead indicated a recent state law that gives the inspector general more authority to probe police or gangs of deputy.
“We look forward to court rulings on the new California law that regulates outside investigations of law enforcement gangs,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Department has long faced allegations of clandestine undercover deputies operating in some train stations and prisons, controlling command staff and promoting a culture of violence. A Loyola Marymount University report released in 2021 has identified 18 such groups that have existed over the past five decades, including Executioners and Bandits.
Members of the former group are said to have skull tattoos with Nazi images and AK-47 rifles, while members of the latter are said to be famous for matching tattoos of a decorated skeleton with a wide-brimmed hat, a headband, and a pistol.
After years of investigation, research and litigation, on May 12, Huntsman’s office sent a letter to 35 deputies suspected of being members of the Executioners, an alleged gang operating outside Compton or Banditos station, operating out of the East. LA station.
The names of the delegates who received the letters have not been released to the public, but Huntsman previously told The Times that they were a subset of 41 delegates His office was identified as a suspected gang member last year.
In the May 12 letter, Huntsman ordered delegates to show him their tattoos, reveal the names of any other delegates with the same ink, and question whether they were ever invited. join a group regarding their tattoo or not. The goal, he said, was to make a list of all the people in the Sheriff’s Department who belonged to a gang of deputy.
It is not clear what the consequences will be for any delegates who receive the letter and refuse to cooperate. Then, on Thursday, Luna sent out an email to her entire staff directing her staff to comply with the inspector general’s request.
“Please note that all Department employees who have received such a request are hereby ordered to appear and cooperate in such interviews. “All statements made by Department employees must be complete, complete, and truthful statements.”
The email states that any employee who obstructs or delays the investigation may be subject to disciplinary action or dismissal in accordance with applicable county policies.
But unions had a problem with that.
“By unilaterally implementing a system where the OIG can ‘direct’ employees to ‘engage in an interview’ on an issue that could lead to disciplinary action, criminal prosecution or loss of certification, law enforcement, with deputies required to do so as ‘a job function, ‘the county unilaterally changed the working conditions negotiable without prior negotiation,’ the laws union attorney wrote in the letter on Friday.
They also highlighted another issue: Since the county passed the new oversight measure in 2020, unions and the county have argued back and forth over whether deputies should respond to subpoenas from the courts. supervisor or not. According to the letter, late last year, the county Employee Relations Committee said it did not – at least until the two sides finished trying to come to an agreement on how to resolve the issue.
“The OIG made the deliberate decision not to subpoena any of the OIG letter recipients but instead ‘direct’ recipients to ‘appear and answer’ questions “, the unions wrote last week. “The decision to do so is an attempt to evade this committee’s decision and directs the county not to issue subpoenas to ALADS and PPOA members in the pending the completion of the negotiation process.”
To remedy the situation, the unions asked the county commission to rescind the inspector general’s letter.
Although the lawsuit was based on different arguments, it led to a similar request, asking for urgent action to “prevent an imminent violation” of the delegate’s rights.