Department Officials Discuss the Civilian Oversight commission’s Hearing on Deputy Subgroups and Cliques within the Sheriff’s Department
On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, Assistant Sheriff Holly Francisco and Chief April Tardy discussed developments and actions taken on alleged deputy subgroups and cliques within the Sheriff’s Department in response to allegations made by the Chair of the Civilian Oversight Commission, Sean Kennedy.
In a news interview last week, Chair Sean Kennedy made the following statement: “It is time to hear from the Sheriff and Undersheriff Murakami and the other LASD officials who have the authority to address deputy gangs, but it appears have done nothing to do so.”
His statement could not be further from the truth. Sheriff Villanueva has addressed and taken various steps to address the problem, build community trust, and counter the false narrative broadcasted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Civilian Oversight Commission (COC). Assistant Sheriff Holly Francisco presented factual evidence of Sheriff Villanueva’s steps to address deputy subgroups and cliques.
On his very first day as the Sheriff, Villanueva removed the captain of the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station and replaced the entire command staff. Throughout 2019, 36 East Los Angeles Deputies were transferred to other stations, four were terminated, and 22 that were part of the Kennedy Hall investigation were suspended without pay.
In February of 2020, Sheriff Villanueva successfully implemented a department policy that prohibits employees from participating in any clique or subgroup that promotes conduct that violates the rights of other employees or members of the public, the first sheriff in the department’s history to do so. Department training videos on the topic were created and distributed, personnel viewed these training materials, and mandatory briefings regarding cliques were conducted.
Additionally, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored AB 958 legislation for Peace Officer Cliques with Assembly Member Mike Gipson; AB958 was signed into law on October 2021. The legislation is intended to tackle the issue of “gangs” among peace officers that might undermine the professional standards of policing among California’s law enforcement agencies.
In August 2020, the Kennedy Hall investigation was completed, and Sheriff Villanueva held a press conference to announce the investigation results, including the termination and suspension of the deputies involved. In September 2020, Sheriff Villanueva sent a message to all personnel requesting their participation in the RAND Corporation study on deputy subgroups. Deputies were encouraged to complete the anonymous survey.
In March 2021, a subgroups and cliques policy re-briefing email was sent to department members, including a reminder that all employees would be held accountable for any policy violation. Unit commanders had their personnel sign a copy of the policy stating that they read and understood it.
In February 2022, the department created a portal on the department’s website so that the public could report any evidence of deputy gangs or employee misconduct in the department (https://lasd.org/report-employee-misconduct/).
After Assistant Sheriff Francisco outlined the Sheriff’s actions to dispel rumors of inaction, Chief April Tardy spoke about her experience implementing all the subgroup policies to encourage compliance. “In addition, we’re holding our supervisors accountable to monitor the workplace and encourage our deputies to continue to work hard, rebuild our community relationships and make good decisions,” said Chief April Tardy.
“Our goal today was to truly show the amount of work we have done and negate the headlines that the Sheriff and the department have done nothing regarding the deputy subgroups and cliques. I think you can see that this is the farthest from the truth,” said Assistant Sheriff Holly Francisco.
Contrary to what the media or some politicians claim, many policies have been implemented regarding deputy subgroups and cliques so the community can trust that law enforcement and personnel are held accountable.