LA Times Publishes Info on Faulty Sheriff's Department Hiring; Officers' Union Tried to Stop Report
A Los Angeles Times investigation revealed December 2 that the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) hired numerous problem officers in 2010, including individuals who had histories of misconduct at other law enforcement agencies, had solicited prostitutes, falsified police records and unlawfully discharged firearms.
The leaked information reviewed by the Times included taped interviews with applicants as well as hiring investigation files and provide an inside look at the hiring practices at the nation's largest sheriff's department. From the Times:
David McDonald was hired despite admitting to sheriff's investigators he had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl whom he kissed and groped. He was 28 at the time.
"I was in love," he said in an interview with The Times. "I wasn't being a bad guy."
In another case, Linda Bonner was given a job after revealing that she used her department-issued weapon to shoot at her husband as he ran away from her during an argument. He wasn't hit; he was lucky he was running in a zigzag pattern, she told investigators, because if not the end result "would have been a whole lot different."
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), the union that represents LASD deputies,tried in September 2013 to stop the records from being unveiled, going after the Times and the reporter who had acquired the records, Robert Faturechi, saying he unlawfully possessed background investigation files containing personal information of deputies.
"What part of 'stolen property' is such a mystery to the L.A. Times?" ALADS President Floyd Hayhurst said in a statement on the ALADS website. "If any harm comes to deputy sheriffs or their families because of the stolen files, we will hold the Los Angeles Times responsible for their complete lack of journalistic integrity," Hayhurst said.
The Times' lawyers contended deputies' privacy rights or speculation about threats to their safety could not justify a violation of free-speech rights.
The newspaper's attorneys also wrote that the union had no basis for seeking an emergency order, noting that The Times has published other stories based on information from employment records in the past.
In August, the Sheriff's Department announced in a press release that it launched a criminal investigation into the leak of personal information to a Times reporter.
For more on the LASD and misconduct in the department, read and watch LA County Sheriff's Hassle Photographer, Trample Constitution, Get Lauded by Bosses: