Dozens of LA Sheriff’s Deputies Suspected of Gang Membership Ordered to Show Gang Tattoos and Snitch on Fellow Cops
by Miles Dyson
Dozens of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s (“LASD”) deputies have been ordered to show their suspected gang tattoos and reveal the names of other deputies who have them, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
The deputies have been instructed to submit to questioning, reveal their tattoos, and disclose the identities of other deputies who bear similar ink associated with two notorious deputy gangs. This demand was outlined in a letter sent by County Inspector General Max Huntsman to 35 deputies suspected of affiliating with either the Executioners, operating out of the Compton station, or the Banditos, operating out of the East L.A. station.
While the names of these deputies have not been publicly disclosed, Huntsman stated that they constitute a subset of the 41 deputies identified as suspected gang members last year. The inspector general emphasized that LASD’s internal affairs investigations into the Banditos and Executioners were incomplete and failed to identify all members. Huntsman cited California’s new gang law, which addresses discrimination based on race and gender and empowers inspectors general with enhanced authority to gather evidence. Utilizing this authority, Huntsman directed the deputies to exhibit their tattoos and reveal the identities of others with similar markings in order to conclude the investigations.
The potential consequences for noncompliance remain unclear, although the letters sent by Huntsman last week cautioned that refusing to answer questions could have adverse implications for employment with Los Angeles County or their status as peace officers.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged the existence of the letters in a statement but did not clarify whether deputies would be required to respond or face consequences for noncompliance. The department emphasized its support for investigations into wrongdoing and underscored its commitment to holding members accountable for misconduct or criminal activity.
The five-page letter from the inspector general, serving as the county’s watchdog, began by notifying the recipients that they were directed to participate in an interview concerning the presence of law enforcement gangs within the LASD. The letter cited a 2021 state law that grants inspectors general the authority to investigate law enforcement gangs and emphasizes agencies’ obligation to cooperate with such investigations.
Although the law does not explicitly outline the consequences for noncooperation by individual deputies, Huntsman’s letter referred to another section of the state’s penal code, suggesting that failure to cooperate with an investigation into police misconduct could result in the decertification of a peace officer.
The letter also requested deputies to expose their legs, a common location for suspected gang tattoos. It concluded by instructing recipients to contact the Office of Inspector General within two weeks to schedule an interview.
While the letter stipulated that deputies were obliged to appear and answer questions, it acknowledged one possible exception—the 5th Amendment. If deputies invoked their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions, Huntsman’s office would not compel them to respond—at least not immediately.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that the order was necessary to “ensure that the public can trust that our deputies are not affiliated with gangs.”
“We will not tolerate any deputy who uses their gang affiliation to intimidate or harass the public,” Villanueva said.
The order has been met with mixed reactions from deputies. Some deputies have said that they are willing to comply with the order, while others have said that they are considering resigning.
The order is the latest in a series of scandals to rock the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. In recent years, the department has been accused of corruption, brutality, and racism.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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