Special Counsel Report Sheds Light on LASD Deputy Gangs’ Damaging Impact

April 01, 2023 by Seppi Esfandi in California  Special Report  
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LASD Deputy Gangs

If you’ve lived in Los Angeles for any period of time, you’re probably aware of the problem of gang violence. But did you know that some members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) have been implicated in their own gangs? A recent report by the Special Counsel to the LA County Board of Supervisors sheds light on this disturbing issue.

The LASD is the largest sheriff’s department in the world, with over 10,000 sworn deputies and civilian staff. While the vast majority of these individuals serve their communities with honor and professionalism, a small minority have formed their own groups known as “deputy gangs.” These gangs have been documented by the media and civil rights groups for decades, but until recently, the LASD has been slow to acknowledge and address the problem.

The Special Counsel Report and Its Findings

In 2018, the LA County Board of Supervisors appointed a Special Counsel to investigate allegations of misconduct within the LASD, including the existence of deputy gangs. The resulting report, released in 2020, found that deputy gangs were “prevalent and problematic” within the department, and that their members engaged in a range of misconduct, including excessive force, false arrest, and falsifying reports.

The report also found that the LASD had a “deep-seated institutional culture” that tolerated and even encouraged deputy gangs, and that the department’s leadership had failed to take appropriate action to address the problem.

Impact of LASD Deputy Gangs on Communities

The impact of LASD deputy gangs on communities has been devastating. Members of these gangs have been accused of targeting and harassing residents in predominantly Latino and African American neighborhoods, using excessive force during arrests, and planting evidence to justify their actions. In some cases, innocent people have been falsely arrested and imprisoned as a result of the actions of deputy gangs.

The existence of deputy gangs has also eroded trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Many residents view these gangs as a symbol of the department’s corruption and lack of accountability and are hesitant to report crimes or cooperate with investigations out of fear of retaliation.

Comparison with LAPD Gangs

While the existence of police gangs is not unique to the LASD, the problem appears to be more widespread within this department than in the LAPD. In part, this may be due to differences in department culture and leadership. The LAPD has made significant strides in recent years to address the problem of police gangs, including implementing stricter hiring standards and cracking down on misconduct.

Response from the LA Sheriff’s Department

Following the release of the Special Counsel’s report, the LASD has taken some steps to address the problem of deputy gangs. These include implementing new policies to prohibit the formation of subgroups within the department, and requiring deputies to report any knowledge of deputy gang activity.

However, critics argue that these measures are insufficient, and that the LASD needs to take more aggressive action to root out deputy gangs and hold their members accountable for their actions.

Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission’s Role in Addressing Deputy Gangs

The Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission was established in 2016 to provide independent oversight of the LASD and promote transparency and accountability. In the wake of the Special Counsel’s report, the Commission has played a key role in pressuring the department to take action on deputy gangs.

The Commission has called for the LASD to implement a range of reforms, including stronger internal controls to prevent deputy gang activity, and greater transparency and accountability in the department’s disciplinary process.

Steps Taken to Reform the LASD

In addition to the measures already mentioned, the LASD has taken several other steps to address the problem of deputy gangs. These include:

  1. Conducting an internal review of deputy gang activity within the department
  2. Requiring all deputies to undergo anti-bias and anti-harassment training
  3. Establishing a new unit to investigate allegations of deputy gang activity
  4. Holding deputies accountable for misconduct through the disciplinary process

Criticisms of the LASD’s Response

Despite these efforts, many critics argue that the LASD has not gone far enough to address the problem of deputy gangs. Some have called for the department to be disbanded entirely, while others have called for more aggressive oversight from the County Board of Supervisors.

Critics also point out that the LASD has a long history of resistance to external oversight and has been slow to implement necessary reforms. They argue that the department needs to take a more proactive approach to address the problem of deputy gangs, rather than waiting for outside pressure to force their hand.

The Future of LASD and Its Relationship with the Community

The problem of deputy gangs is a serious one, and it will take time and effort to address. However, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the LASD and its relationship with the community.

Recent years have seen a growing awareness of the problem of police misconduct, and a renewed commitment to accountability and transparency. The LASD has an opportunity to lead the way in this regard, by taking strong action to address the problem of deputy gangs and restore public trust in the department.


The problem of deputy gangs within the LASD is a complex and multi-faceted one, and there are no easy solutions. However, by taking a proactive and transparent approach, the department can begin to rebuild trust with the communities it serves and move toward a more just and equitable future.

If you’re interested in learning more about this issue or getting involved in efforts to promote police accountability and reform, consider reaching out to local civil rights organizations or attending community meetings on the topic. Together, we can work to create a safer and more just society for all.

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