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Inspector General Tapped As Watchdog For LA County Jails

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — County officials appointed a veteran public corruption prosecutor Wednesday to provide oversight and monitoring of the largest Sheriff’s department in the nation.

KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports the Board of Supervisors selected Max Huntsman, assistant head deputy of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division, as the inspector general for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Inspector General Tapped As Watchdog For LA County Jails

Huntsman, a graduate of Yale Law School and UC Santa Cruz, has successfully prosecuted officials in Bell, Vernon, Compton and Los Angeles, will be paid a salary of over $204,000 a year for the newly-created position.

He will be tasked with investigating allegations of improper conduct by the department, which has been plagued by jail scandals, committee inquiries and even a federal investigation in recent years.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has authored several motions asking for a civilian oversight committee and the creation of an inspector general of the Sheriff’s Department, praised the board’s selection.

“This appointment is a much-needed step in the right direction,” said Ridley-Thomas. “The appointment of an inspector general alone, however, will not bring true reform to the Sheriff’s department. For public confidence to be fully restored there must be singularly focused civilian oversight in order to make reforms and bring forth an open process to allegations of misconduct.”

The office of Inspector General was one of the key recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission last year that investigated allegations of violence inside the nation’s largest jail system. The commission, which included several former judges and a police chief, concluded there was a pattern of excessive force by deputies in the county jails.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky said Huntsman’s job is a key component to implementing the panel’s recommendations, adding the move will serve as “a reality check on some of things that are going on in this department that perhaps [Sheriff Lee Baca’s] own people aren’t willing to tell him.”

The board will formalize the appointment at their weekly meeting on December 3.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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