Sheriff Candidate Questionnaire: Karla Carranza
LAist sent all candidates for L.A. County sheriff the following questionnaire. Below are the responses from candidate Eli Vera, an L.A. Sheriff's Commander. Their responses have been published in full, without any editing.
We also have a full overview of the sheriff’s race.
What do you think is the number one thing that needs to change at the Sheriff’s Department and how would you change it?
There are so many things to change in the Sheriff Department, however, the main thing at this moment is to change the "Bully" Leadership we currently have. When elected Sheriff, I would start off with replacing most of the supervisors from top levels and bring a new perspective and styles of leadership that will help bring transparency at all levels.
Do you think the department needs more deputies? If so, why, and how many more?
It is not only the Sheriff Department that needs more sworn personnel. Being one of the largest Sheriff's departments in the world, we need to be able to be fully staffed and not function with less in a county where the population is 9 million. We are currently at approximately 10,000 sworn deputies, and over 8,000 civilian staff. It is very essential to provide the best we can to our residents and communities.
How would you address the rise in the number of murders in areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department, which has seen a much higher increase than in areas patrolled by the LAPD?
The rise of crime has affected not only the areas patrolled by the Sheriff department, it has been across the nation. However, this is where the importance of hiring more sworn personnel. We are losing sworn deputies to other agencies, retirement, injuries,etc. We need to be able to increase patrol and the resources to our communities. LAPD serves at the pleasure of the city council and we serve beyond the city of Los Angeles areas. Our department has the responsibilities of running the jails and courts. We don't just patrol various cities. Increasing the presence of deputies will help our communities decrease the influx of crimes by working together.
What role should the Sheriff’s Department play in addressing homelessness?
The role the Sheriff department has been in assisting our communities with issues with homelessness. It not only affects those who have addiction problems, it is also families affected that need our assistance. Homelessness increase has been in correlation with the increase of crimes and drugs plaguing our communities.
Do you believe secretive deputy subgroups or “gangs” exist inside the Sheriff’s Department and if so do you think they are a problem? How would you address this issue?
Yes, we do have an issue on subgroups or "gangs" and it has existed for decades. Unknown how much worse it was before cameras, cell phones, etc., and it is a problem because it takes away from the main goal of our department's to maintain the integrity and respect of our communities. It becomes an issue because it creates a division and affects the quality of life of our communities and department members not involved in these subgroups. Currently our incumbent and others who have served and still serve have knowledge of issues with subgroups or "gangs". They are being protected because they are part of the "good old boys club" and all other personnel can be "sacrificed" when relieved of duty to continue to bury the truth. We have already seen this first hand when he is willing to go publicly and deny that subgroups exist. Others who are not part of these subgroups or "gangs" due to not meeting their so-called criterias. We have seen what the current leadership is willing to do for a former deputy who was arrested for domestic violence and recorded via cell phone breaking into their home. To save this person he decided to continue to sacrifice and continue to relieve the duty of other sworn personnel to state he has no problem doing so on the issue of those doing wrong. Still he continues to do wrong to those still serving the department who are not part of the "good old boys club" or "favoritism list" or "preferential" sub groups.
The only way to address the issue is "zero" tolerance. If I am voted to be the next Sheriff, I will not be swayed to give "preferential" treatment or what "good old boys club" they pertain to. It will not be tolerated. We will have our department, FBI, and DOJ working together to identify these "subgroups" or "gangs" and work along with the US Attorney's Office. I will say this again "subgroups" and/or "gangs" do not represent the hard working men and women in law enforcement who serve their communities and departments, who put in day and day out hard work to be mis-represented by the few who conduct themselves in a criminal manner. That bullying and criminal mentality begins from leadership from the top.
Do you support responding to calls involving people who appear to have mental health issues or are otherwise acting erratically with unarmed clinicians instead of deputies? How would you improve how the department deals with people with mental illnesses, absent an increase in funding from the Board of Supervisors?
I do not believe it would be safe for unarmed clinicians to respond to calls that involve people who appear to have mental health issues or are acting erratically. It should be a collaborative effort with clinicians and law enforcement. Our LASD Mental Evaluation Team (MET), has been working together with the licensed Department of Mental Health (DMH), in assessing calls which involve mental illness, identify and diffuse calls received on patrol calls, provide outpatient mental health services support, and provide resources to the community. We would continue to improve how we deal with people who suffer from mental health issues through providing more training to our department personnel to reduce the use of force, educate families of resources available to them by talking to our licensed mental health clinicians, and evaluate the calls by separating the calls from the stations to a certified and trained clinician and sworn personnel. I believe if we can demonstrate how a co-response can better assist and demonstrate better results in reduction of incarceration of those with mental health issues, the Board of Supervisors along with other ways of state and federal funding for proper resources offered to our communities and families. This can be where it is identified with the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS). I am sure we can find a way to help those families with this where they can find a solution with government and private medical insurance.
Do you think the department needs to change how and when deputies conduct traffic stops? What about bicycle stops?
The question in regards to what I think the department needs to change on how and when deputies conduct traffic stops is very vague and open ended. When I was trained the reasons why a deputy conducts a traffic stop and bicycle stops can be for a number of reasons from a traffic violation, reasonable cause, reasonable suspicion (used in a crime, committed a crime), etc. That is why we have training in the academy, patrol training with a Field Training Officer (FTO), case law, etc. Why do we need to be changed?! Today we have body cameras, call logs, GPS in patrol vehicles, etc. where if someone makes a complaint about any misconduct it is documented and investigated. We can continue to have our sworn personnel continue to update their training, re-certified, evaluate, etc. Training is always good to continue to establish in any organization.
Do you think there is a way to reduce deputy-involved shootings and, if so, how?
Deputy-involved shootings and/or officer-involved shootings is the last resort of deadly use of force. The only thing I can say based on my personal and experience in the department is that it differs with each situation sworn personnel are faced in certain situations where deadly use of force is needed to be used to save a life whether another person's or their own. Training is key to every sworn personnel to continue in training to sharpen their skills, and de-escalade certain situations. However, during an active shooter, a dangerous high risk call, etc. I cannot state there is one way to avoid a deputy involved shooting. Can we always continue to conduct more training... yes, absolutely.
Six years ago, the Sheriff’s Department signed an agreement with the federal government to improve conditions for jail inmates. But a recent monitor’s report found inmates with serious mental illnesses continue to suffer in isolation and with little treatment. The monitor also said cells were overflowing with garbage, and filth was spread on the walls, with a pile of razors abandoned in one hallway. How would you fix these problems?
I am currently a supervisor at Twin Towers Correctional Facility (TTCF), The facility consists of two towers, a medical services building, and the Los Angeles County Medical Center Jail Ward known as CTC. We are the biggest in the nation and still understaffed and underfunded. Some of these monitor's reports are not consistent. On some weekends or once every blue moon, since the pandemic most of the time we do not have cleaning crews available and since I have been there since September of 2021, inmates who are trustees that at times are used to assist deputies in cleaning the cells are quarantined for 15 days at a time. It also depends on the inmate's behavior and cooperation. The inmate is given the opportunity to clean their own cells and provided to throw their own trash out of their cell without deputy personnel to enter. Deputy staff informs their clinicians of the inmates' lack of keeping themselves and cells clean that the next step for the clinicians to do is a next level of care for Forensic In-Patient (FIP) requests.
Also, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) is separate from the Sheriff Department and we do not have a DMH clinician on-call M-F after 8 PM, and Sat-Sun there are no on-call clinicians working at all. The only one-call clinician we can use is the one located in Inmate Reception Center (IRC) who is not assigned to our facility, however, is used for emergent situations. I do not know what report this is referring to with regards to razors because in some floors where High Observation Housing are located inmates do not get razors. However, razors and any other items that are used by inmates (clippers, nail clippers, cleaning supplies, etc), depend from floor to floor and tower to tower. Based on this scenario, one way to fix these issues is to sit down with DMH and figure out a new way to provide clinical treatment from a clinician 7 days a week, and a 24 hour on-call clinicians at least 2 per tower to address emergent situations and evaluations especially after 8PM.
A Check in and check out of items daily use of razors, if a certain amount is checked out the same need to be returned to be properly disposed of and this will also take some type of funding. It should be a joint effort and have a few monitors join forces with our department and create a team to address the issues alongside sworn staff and see the steps being taken or not taken to be addressed and improved on.
Why do you think Black people are arrested by the police at three times their share of the population? Does the department have a role in addressing this?
What studies is this going off??? This could be based on the demographics based on the city. Our Department for about at least the past 5 years or more has been tracking the contacts at each station by SACR (Sheriff Automated Contact Reporting) system. Which tracks our contacts, stops, etc. by race, ethnicity, age, gender, etc. All deputy sheriffs starting in the academy are taught diversity training, including attending programs such as the Museum of Tolerance training.
How would you approach your relationship with the Board of Supervisors?
I would set up a relationship where there is open dialog, transparency, and the willingness to work hand in hand to address the issues within Los Angeles County. I believe communication is one of the major foundations to addressing problems through our communities.
Will you comply with all subpoenas and requests for records issued by the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission and Inspector General?
Yes, it is a legal procedure and as a Sheriff I would set the example of being transparent and among my deputies.
What will you do to improve transparency at the Sheriff’s Department? Specifically, how would you make the department more responsive to Public Records Act requests under Senate Bill 1421, which requires law enforcement agencies to release information about deputies who were involved in shootings and serious uses of force, and/or were found to have lied or committed sexual misconduct on the job?
I would work hand in hand with the Civilian oversight committee, the inspector general, and the BOS to ensure that all vital information is released in a timely manner after the initial investigation. However, there will be times where there is sensitive information that may not be released to the public due to the type of crime, victims involved, etc. However, I would ensure that the BOS, COC, and inspector general office are informed of the incident and current status of investigation. Communication is key to ensure transparency. These steps will help build trust within our communities and with our partner agencies.
Will you enforce the county’s vaccine mandate with deputies? There’s a lot of resistance in the department to vaccination; what steps would you take to get more deputies vaccinated?
This is a personal choice and I would like to respect their decision based on their religion, personal health reasons, etc. However, I would make the effort to provide that all deputies are educated on the benefits to them, to their families, and communities regarding vaccination. This is to respect and be inclusive to those who are vaccinated.
Do you support the recall of District Attorney George Gascón? If so, why?
Yes, I do support the recall of DA Gascon, it has affected many victims and their families. Crime has increased in Los Angeles County and can be attributed to the DA's lack of strict prosecution of serious and violent crimes. I believe holding people accountable for their actions would reduce criminal activity in Los Angeles County. IT IS TIME TO GET BACK TO THE BASICS.
Learn about the rest of the candidates in our guide to the sheriff’s race.