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Morning Brief: LASD Gangs, L.A.’s Ukrainian Cyber Resistance, Wildfire Failures

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The L.A. County Sheriff's Department (Photo via Facebook)
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Good morning, L.A. It's March 25.

Another investigation is being launched into alleged "deputy gangs" in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

Just this week, L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva openly clashed with his own watchdog, Inspector General Max Huntsman. Huntsman, who was tasked with investigating the alleged subgroups in the department, said that Villanueva stopped cooperating with the investigation.

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And now, LASD will come under an even larger magnifying glass.

“The Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission is launching a ‘full-scale’ investigation into allegations that the Sheriff’s Department is infested with secret and sometimes violent deputy gangs,” writes my colleague Frank Stoltze. “The investigation is expected to be the most in-depth examination to date of a problem that many say has existed for more than half a century.”

Meanwhile, Sheriff Villanueva has repeatedly denied the existence of deputy gangs, claiming that any questionable behavior from his deputies is simply “hazing run amok.”

“Deputy gangs have fostered and promoted excessive force against citizens, discriminated against other deputies based on race and gender, and undermined the chain of command and discipline,” said Civilian Oversight Commission Chair Sean Kennedy in a statement. “Despite years of documented history of this issue, the Department has failed to eliminate the gangs.”

One in six L.A. Sheriff’s deputies surveyed anonymously by the RAND Corporation said they had been asked to join a deputy subgroup or “gang” at some point in their career. A Loyola Law School report found that at least 18 subgroups have existed within the L.A. Sheriff’s Department for nearly half a century.

In response to the investigation, Villanueva called it a "fishing expedition" and "political theater." He also claimed to have never received a listed of the alleged "gang members" as defined by state law.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go...Can Melatonin Gummies Solve Family Bedtime Struggles?

An illustration shows a vitamin jar with the label "YUMMY MELATONIN GUMMIES" in black, with the added "FOR Kids!" in yellow, with a Disney-esque font. It's surrounded by yellow candy wrappers.
( Oona Tempest
/
KHN)
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“Why are you still up?”

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve received the above message. And it almost always evokes this feeling of childhood, the reprimanding voice of an adult telling me that I’ll spoil my day tomorrow unless I turn off the N64 and dive under the covers.

I’m a diagnosed insomniac, and, yes, I’ve tried everything. Cutting off caffeine earlier and earlier. No screens before bedtime. Valerian Root. Doxepin, Trazodone, Suvorexant. But the most common advice I get is:

“Have you tried Melatonin?”

It’s become ubiquitous, even trickling all the way down to sleep-deprived children. But you should exercise caution — experts warn that it might not be the sleepytime cure-all it’s hyped up to be.

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