In an effort to provide members of the general public with information related to developing police reform updates, community leaders from the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, Office of Inspector General and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition gathered Wednesday for a news conference hosted by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Pro Tem Hilda Solis.
Lasting a little under an hour, Wednesday’s conference included a number of important updates pertaining to the county’s immigrant and vulnerable communities who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, I want to talk about the need for historically underserved communities of color to receive the resources that they need and deserve,” Solis said at the beginning of the conference when she mentioned a need to divide the available resources evenly. “This is what justice is about. It’s what the marches in the streets are about. And it’s time to shift our mindset.”
As she shared graphics depicting the ways black and brown communities have endured decades of underinvestment and are now struggling during the pandemic, Solis said, “there will be more opportunities in the coming weeks to push for bold and systemic changes — to push for more investments in our underserved areas. And that is exactly what I’m committed to doing.”
Solis added, “People will only achieve their full potential if they’re provided with health and mental health care, job opportunities and affordable housing, instead of a jail cell,” which is why Max Huntsman, Inspector General for the County of Los Angeles, was invited to discuss the reform efforts he is currently undertaking.
“I believe we’re at a moment now where we can make great progress,” Huntsman said, before addressing body-worn cameras — which were recommended almost a decade ago by the LA County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission. “The board has provided funding and it is ready. And LASD has said that they will begin a partial program to implement the body cameras by the end of this year,” but there is still no plan from LASD for implementing complete camera coverage, which is an action Huntsman and his peers take issue with.
“Now, as all of you know, our country’s in the middle of a critical debate on how to effectively reform law enforcement to reduce the lethal use of force and make policing more accountable,” said Hernán Vera, commissioner of the LA County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission. “Two weeks ago, the civilian oversight commission adopted a resolution with 18 separate recommendations as first steps towards needed reforms. Now, some have said that these recommendations are simply band-aids,” but Vera disagrees.
“If implemented, I believe they can make an enormous difference,” Vera said, after Huntsman aired his grievances with LASD for refusing to comply with subpoenas from the oversight commission, which was a power granted by voters last year.
“The county has started legal action,” Huntsman said. And while that’s a slow process, it is one that residents hope will lead to law enforcement following the law.