Government Continues Investigation into L.A. County Sheriff's Department

A federal grand jury has indicted several Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials over alleged misconduct such as civil rights abuses and public corruption (LA Times). Specifically, 18 current and former officials, 13 deputies, three sergeants and two lieutenants, are being accused of beating inmates and lying to cover it up.

A federal investigation into the sheriff's department will not only continue, but also expand. Prosecutors are hoping to procure testimony from people within the department and even from those involved in the scandal. Prosecutors are incentivizing officials who have already been charged by offering deals for softer punishment in exchange for information.

This is the largest corruption probe into the L.A. County Sheriff's Department since the 1980s. This current investigation began three years ago.

Some have given reason to believe that the corruption could go as high up the chain of command as Sheriff Lee Baca himself. According to testimony from four sheriff's employees, Baca's role in handling an inmate after discovering he was working as an FBI informant was significant. Prosecutors alleged that the inmate and FBI informant was hid from the FBI when he was supposed to appear in court to testify about misconduct in the jail.

Prosecuting these types of cases can be difficult, according to former U.S. Attorney Thomas Hagemann, because many of the witnesses used by the prosecution have criminal records, which the defense uses to attack their credibility. He also mentioned a "code of silence" within the sheriff's department – they don't readily testify against their own.