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LA County Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Temporarily Halting Interviews of Deputies in Gang Investigation

Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs’ Lawsuit Results in Pause In Investigation

By Dolores Quintana

James C. Chalfant, a Los Angeles County Judge, issued a preliminary injunction on July 11 temporarily preventing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from conducting in-person interviews and inspections of tattoos belonging to certain deputies suspected of involvement in two law enforcement gangs, as reported by NBC Los Angeles. The injunction comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), which represents the majority of deputies.

Judge Chalfant’s 42-page order, made available on Tuesday, granted the preliminary injunction, citing the need for the County to engage in negotiations with ALADS before proceeding with the interviews. The judge emphasized the potential harm to deputies if the terms of the interviews were not properly negotiated with the union. Additionally, he acknowledged the potential harm to the public if the investigation into the deputy gangs was delayed but concluded that an immediate investigation was not imperative.

In May, ALADS filed a lawsuit against the County to block the Sheriff’s order, which directed more than 30 deputies suspected of gang membership to answer questions about their associations with two law enforcement gangs: the Banditos, allegedly based at the Sheriff’s East LA station, and the Executioners, allegedly based at the Sheriff’s Compton station. The deputies were also instructed to provide photographs or display ankle tattoos depicting the gangs’ insignias.

Inspector General Max Huntsman expressed disappointment with the judge’s decision and expects the County to appeal. He highlighted the need for a thorough investigation into the existence of law enforcement gangs, citing California’s recent changes in the law that outlawed such groups and introduced measures to decertify members, rendering them ineligible for employment in any police agency in the state. Huntsman emphasized the importance of holding the Sheriff’s Department accountable and ensuring that it operates within the bounds of the law.

The preliminary injunction is temporary until the case can be more extensively argued. The court is scheduled to reconvene in September to further address the matter.

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