We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).
A new report from the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) on their investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department’s inmate and safety checks at its Metropolitan Detention Center shows that the Department’s cell block checks didn’t comply with minimum standards and expectations. This OIG’s findings follow the recent death of 36-year-old Wakiesha Wilson who was found dead in a jail cell and last week’s Los Angeles Police Commission Categorical Use of Force report that revealed that in a 2015 in-custody death in the Pacific Division, on multiple occasions detention officers signed more than one line with different times on the Jail Inspection Record while inspecting the inmates–among other things.
The OIG’s audit found that of the 198 cell block checks reviewed —when detention officers bothered to do them—163 or 82.3 percent were found to be out of compliance with existing policies and expectations. Officers either didn’t go into the cell block to perform the cell check or didn’t bother to check the entire cell block when inside.
The report further noted that in 137 of 198 (69%) cases, detention personnel did not enter the cell blocks at all during their inmate inspections.
Inmate counts on the paper logs were usually inaccurate and videos where the number of inmates present did not reflect the number of inmates noted on the corresponding log. We call that cooking the books around here.
For the record: the LAPD’s $80 million 160,000-square-foot state-of-art fancy schmancy Metropolitan Detention Center is the only LAPD jail that still relies on paper logs to record the date, time, and the serial number of the officer performing the cell block checks. Paper logs, really?
But it gets worse.
According to the report the Department’s jail security camera video footage is systematically erased after 30 days. So at the time of the OIG’s request, the Department conveniently did not have the capability of providing video footage that was more than 30 days old.
Approximately half of the Department’s cell block checks that did not comply with the minimum standard and expectations involved cell blocks that were empty and were not checked at all. This means that there was no recordation of an inmate inspection or safety check on the paper log, and video footage confirmed that no attempt was made to approach the cell block in order to enter.
The OIG’s investigation also found that detention officers did not have clear direction on the actual use of their own card swipe system during cell block checks, resulting in the inconsistent application of this system.
Let us not forget that last year, LAPD Sergeant Ronald Traynor brought suit against the Department alleging he was transferred and denied promotions in retaliation for uncovering missed inmate cell checks and other alleged wrongdoing
Traynor claimed that many cell checks were not occurring and that not all inmates were being properly secured, according to the lawsuit.
Traynor’s investigation of a detention officer “led him to believe that the DO was possibly abusing prescription drugs,” the suit states.
Traynor reported these problems to his supervisors as well as his observations that some detention officers were not making sure that other employees were fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure inmates, the suit states.
It’ll be interesting to see how Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck spins this one at Tuesday’s police commission. It’s the first item on the agenda under Regular Agenda Items right before Chief Beck presents his policy on “Police Contacts with Persons Experiencing Homelessness.” I think he pulls out the deer in headlights on the jail report. It seems to work well for him with the media.
Before I get out of here, y’all working in the jails need to get it together and the rest of us need to use this report as a reminder of why we don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever want to go to jail in the custody of LAPD and therefore act accordingly to make sure that we don’t (although keeping in mind that plan doesn’t work 100 percent of the time as I am living proof of that). But still, they may just forget we’re even in there according to this report and I don’t want to be found dead in a jail cell, my family notified days later and some story about me committing suicide offered as the reason why.