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County Spent $20 Million On 'Shameful' Excessive Force Lawsuits Against Sheriff's Department

An L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. patrol car (Photo by KingoftheHill. via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The L.A. County Sheriff's Department was wracked by controversy for the year of 2013, and it can add excessive-force lawsuit costs to that long list of troubles. The county's attorneys released a new report revealing that the city spent $43 million on lawsuits involving the Sheriff's Department last year.

That's almost half of the county's total litigation costs, which totaled $89 million in the last fiscal year, according to the Los Angeles Times. What's even more alarming is that in a separate report released on Thursday by county Supervisor Gloria Molina's office, $20 million was specifically spent on excessive force lawsuits—a $7 million jump from last year. The county’s Litigation Cost Manager Steve Estabrook said the excessive force was the "single most significant litigation expense this year."


Graphs showing the county's litigation costs in regards to the Sheriff's Dept. in the last fiscal year (Graphs via Gloria Molina's website
“We have to be prepared because there are issues in which we must defend our deputies, the actions that they take and the responsibilities that they carry out," Molina said in a recent Board of Supervisors meeting (via CBS Los Angeles). "And they lay their life out for. And I am prepared to do so as a member of this board.

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"But when you hear some of the things that some of these deputies have done and how we need to continue to pay them while we’re investigating for a year, two years, maybe three years, it is shameful."

Though, there was about a 23 percent decrease in the county's total spending on lawsuits in general (not just the Sheriff's Department) from 2012, which totaled $115 million, according to Molina's report.

The Sheriff's Dept. has been facing a media firestorm lately. Sheriff Lee Baca resigned from his post on Jan. 7 amid a laundry list of controversies. There was a huge crackdown on employee misconduct, including excessive force and abuse of power, at the Men's Central Jail; 18 Sheriff's Dept. employees were arrested on Dec. 9. In addition, Sheriff Baca came under fire when it was revealed the department had hired a large number of employees with majorly questionable histories including sexual activity with a minor and excessive force.

Bye Bye Baca: Emotional Sheriff Goes Out 'On My Terms'
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