Report: L.A. County Sheriff’s Department struggles with drunken deputies

06/23/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley

Los Angeles, CA—An oversight report, released on June 22, 2010, spotlighted the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s problems with drunken deputies on the job and off the job. The county Office of Independent Review revealed that alcohol-related incidents among department employee’s has jumped this year, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

From January through May, there were a reported 33 incidents, including numerous cases of deputies drunk while on duty, which is more than those reported within the same time period last year.

Sheriff Lee Baca admitted that the report shows the ineffectiveness of the police department’s recent attempts to putting an end to the officer’s drinking. Baca announced in 2008 that he planned to bar deputies from carrying firearms while intoxicated, but the deputies’ union has been fighting back, stating the rule would infringe on deputies’ rights. In the meantime, the police department has required all employees, who were involved in alcohol-related incidents to meet personally with the department’s second-in-command official.

The report also mention other incidents:

• An off-duty officer was detained for suspicion of DUI, while she had her children in the car. Months later she was arrested again for another DUI charge. She was then arrested for the third time after she reportedly shot her gun negligently while off-duty and intoxicated.

• An on-duty officer was allegedly under the influence of alcohol while driving a county vehicle to an assignment. The officer ran a red light; hit another car, injuring two passengers.

• An officer called in sick, but officials later found out she wasn’t sick, she was actually out of state. While on the trip, she was kicked out a casino for engaging in overly vulgar behavior during a “booty shaking contest,” all while intoxicated. She was arrested on a trespassing charge after resisting removal.

• Deputy Randy Barragan, 25, was arrested last month on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He allegedly fired a handgun into the air on the Redondo Beach Pier after drinking at area restaurants. While hanging on the railing, Barragan fired a revolver. His girlfriend knocked the gun out of his hand, and a nearby fisherman tackled him to the ground, where he was held him until officers arrived.

• An off-duty officer was arrested for having a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, while behind the wheel. The officer then asked to be let off “since she was one of them.”

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff’s is trying to stop Baca’s plan to keep officers from carrying firearms while drinking alcohol. The president of Professional Peace Officers Assn., Brian Moriquchi said, “We don’t promote deputies drinking and carrying their guns around and being reckless. Our objection is to an ill-conceived policy that is not going to accomplish what its intended to.”

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley- Legal news for California employment lawyers.

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