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Feds Investigate LA Sheriff's Department for Civil Rights Violations Against Minorities in Antelope Valley

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The Department of Justice announced that they are probing the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in the Antelope Valley, where deputies have been accused of violating the civil rights of black and latino families.

"In interviews with affected individuals and community representatives, we heard troubling accounts of allegedly unjustified stops and searches," Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said, in a statement. "We will be investigating whether there is a pattern of racially motivated stops and arrests."

The probe comes on top of a lawsuit filed by civil rights attorneys in June alleging that the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster violated the Fair Housing Act.

The Los Angeles Times outlines what kind of long-ranging effects could be in store for the Sheriff's department if the feds find that there is truth to the allegations:

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If a pattern of misconduct is found, U.S. officials could seek a court-ordered federal consent decree similar to the one the Los Angeles Police Department operated under after the Rampart corruption scandal. It took nearly a decade for the LAPD to have federal oversight lifted.

Sheriff Lee Baca spoke at a press conference today in downtown Los Angeles saying that he will cooperate with the federal investigation.

"Civil rights are not a threat to law enforcement but the essence of law enforcement," he said, in a statement. "Protecting one’s civil rights is the pathway to a safer community."

Supervisor Michael Antonovich said it was "overkill" for the feds to launch their own investigation, since a review by the county's own office of independent review was days from being finished.