Give L.A. Sheriff Some Civilian Help

la civilian oversight

Sheriff Jim McDonnell meets with colleagues in his new office on July 13, his first day in the refurbished Hall of Justice building downtown. (Los Angeles Times)

Among the many reforms put in place by the federal consent decree that governed the Los Angeles Police Department for the decade that followed the Rampart corruption scandal was the creation of a new position, reporting exclusively to the chief, to advise him on how to ensure that police work was performed constitutionally. The two people who have filled that post are attorneys with strong expertise in criminal justice and constitutional rights, and they have been well placed to help the chief spot issues before they become problems and work through strategies for making sure that effective reform takes hold. Others are in place — the inspector general, for example, and the civilian Police Commission — to conduct investigations and report to the public and City Hall. The special assistant reports to the chief and helps him do his job better.