Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva claimed bias in think tank RAND Corporation’s report—regarding gang-like cliques in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD)—at a Sept. 22 press conference.
Villanueva criticized the study’s methodology since the county board of supervisors appointed the individuals that participated in the focus group who may have a personal bias against the sheriff’s department.
“The process of gathering information, well, that’s kind of comical, in a sense, because it taints the entire product, if that’s what you’re drawing it from,” Villanueva said during the press conference.
“If they drew randomly from the public at large it’s one thing. But if they’re drawing it from people who already have a huge bias against the department. Well, that skews the results.”
This year, the RAND Corporation published a 230-page independent research report to help the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors understand and examine the subgroups within the LASD. The data was collected from 141 community leaders and members, 57 individuals for interview data, and 1608 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department survey participants.
The RAND report stated that the gang-link cliques still exist in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Their survey demonstrated that 16 percent of LASD deputies have been asked to join a subgroup.
Villanueva also criticized the number of surveys conducted and accused the RAND researchers of failing to compare the past and present administrations.
“I read through the article report and I did not find a single reference comparing current permanent leadership and past permanent leadership, not one,” said Villanueva.
He mentioned that the two statements in the same report contradicted themselves. One says the deputy gangs are still actively adding members and one says they do not seem to be actively adding members.
Villanueva expressed that the Los Angeles County Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis’s attempt to freeze the department’s funds could deprive public safety level, and could put the lives of Angelenos at risk.
“She bought for a study, she got her study, and she is using that as a launching pad to continue her campaign and that of the board of supervisors to discredit the fund and delegitimize the sheriff’s department for their political gain at the expense of public safety.”
At the conference, Villanueva admitted that the subgroups do exist just like other large organizations, but they may not be deviated into misconduct, adding that the department is undergoing reforms to eliminate this kind of subgroup.
“With all the negative press associated with the deputy subgroups, with the efforts that I’ve done, my administration has done, putting the policy, enforcing the policy, creating a video that every single member that the department had to see; they had to sign an attestation form and it goes into each individual’s personnel jacket,” said Villanueva.
“None of this was mentioned in the RAND study.”