Supervisors Appoint First Inspector General to Sheriff’s Department

By City News Service

The Board of Supervisors formally approved the appointment of a corruption-tackling prosecutor Tuesday to oversee and monitor the Sheriff’s Department.

Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman will lead the county’s Office of Inspector General and make policy recommendations to the board on issues such as jail conditions, allegations of misconduct and the use of force by deputies.

A graduate of Yale Law School, he will be paid a salary of $204,423.

Given federal probes into jail violence and the treatment of mentally ill inmates, Huntsman would already have his hands full. A recent Los Angeles Times investigation also led supervisors to call for an immediate review of the Sheriff’s Department’s hiring practices.

When the department took over the patrol of parks and government buildings from a county police force in 2010, it hired on dozens of county police officers who lied on record, cheated on polygraph exams or had been fired or pressured to resign from other law enforcement agencies because of misconduct or poor performance.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich said Tuesday that the board made very clear that employees of the Office of Public Safety being transferred to the Sheriff’s Department must meet all department standards.

“We know many of those people in Public Safety were not qualified,” Antonovich said, but only “those who were fully qualified” were supposed to be granted transfers.

Antonovich called for a report on who defied the board’s instructions and hired the officers who didn’t make the grade.

Huntsman, expected to start work around the first of the year, told The Times he was concerned about their findings.

“The hiring of people who have not been honest is a dangerous thing to do,” Huntsman told the newspaper. “A use of force can be placed in context…. It may or may not reoccur. But dishonesty, that’s always going to be a problem.”

Establishing an Office of Inspector General was one of the recommendations made by the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence in September 2012. After months of interviews, the board announced Huntsman as their choice last week.

Huntsman’s 20 years as a Los Angeles County prosecutor include his current assignment as assistant head deputy of the Public Integrity Division of the District Attorney’s Office. He has led major public corruption investigations involving the cities of Bell and Vernon and tried more than 50 jury trials, including two related to police use of force.

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December 5, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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