CITY OF COMMERCE ( — The number of deputies in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who were terminated for misconduct hit a record high last year, according to a report released Thursday.

But as KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports, Michael Gennaco, head of the Office of Independent Review (OIR), said the trend may actually signal positive changes within the Department.

Sixty deputies out of a total of 10,000 currently serving in the Sheriff’s Department were fired in 2011 for violations that included abuse of inmates in the jails, off-duty drunkenness and criminal activity.

Gennaco said the high number of terminations simply means fewer cases of misconduct are being swept under the rug.

“I’m always skeptical when departments of any size come and say, ‘We’ve never had to fire an officer.'” he said. “No agency has got a hundred percent of officers performing at 100 percent.”

The tenth-annual OIR report (PDF) also found the number of deputy-involved shootings were down 10 percent last year and are on pace to be even lower in 2012.

The Department has seen a string of drug-related incidents in recent months, including a six-year veteran deputy arrested on felony drug and other charges back in June.

His arrest came less than two months after at least three deputies were convicted and a fourth fired for smuggling or attempting to smuggle narcotics into jails for inmates, including one incident where a burrito was used to smuggle in the drugs.

And while Gennaco believes cameras in the Men’s Central Jail and Twin Towers facility should curtail inmate abuse, he stopped short of guaranteeing a total elimination of the practice.

“I cannot make you that assurance, and there will always be individuals that are hired that should never have been hired,” Gennaco said.

The report describes more than 30 systemic changes implemented or in process, including transcribing all witness interviews before submitting them to the District Attorney’s Office, separating deputies after a “significant” use-of-force incident, and modifying an internal system to allow for the entry and tracking of inmate complaints by deputy name.

Click here to read the entire OIR report.


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