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OIG Report: LA Sheriff's Department Secretive, Obstructive

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department consistently "obstructs investigations into its conduct" and has failed to "follow oversight laws," according to a new report released Monday by Inspector General Max Huntsman.

In the 17-page report, Huntsman details a long list of complaints and potential violations that range from allegations that Sheriff Alex Villanueva threatened county officials to the failure to disclose the names of deputies involved in shootings.

"The Sheriff's Department has gone to great lengths to keep its conduct secret," the report concludes. "The unlawful acts and potentially unlawful acts enumerated above show a pattern and practice of the repudiation of oversight by the Office of Inspector General, the Civilian Oversight Commission, the Board (of Supervisors) and the public."

The letter, titled "Report Back on Unlawful Conduct of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," was issued at the request of the Civilian Oversight Commission.

Last month, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to look at options for removing elected Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the county's top lawman, rather than waiting to see if voters will do so in 2022. Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn dissented, saying the matter should be left in the hands of voters.

The report touches on everything from alleged deputy cliques and the destruction of photographs of the helicopter crash that killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to court orders — including one compelling Villanueva to appear at a contempt hearing in January after failing to appear before the Civilian Oversight Commission when subpoenaed.

"State and local laws require cooperation with oversight bodies and the public has made it abundantly clear that transparency by law enforcement is a paramount concern," Huntsman wrote. "The police must follow the law if they are to enforce it."

It was not immediately clear whether Huntsman or the Board of Supervisors were gearing up for further action against the sheriff or the department.

The full report can be read online.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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