“Business as usual in police room…”

I’ve had a few tart comments in the past regarding a certain local ex-sheriff. But it didn’t start with him and nor did it stop — and corruption was, in ways, one of the least things about it, when you consider what happened back in 2006:

Orange County Sheriff’s deputies at Theo Lacy Jail systematically shirked their duties by sleeping in the guard station, playing video games and using jailhouse bullies to punish other inmates, a special grand jury found while looking into the 2006 death of inmate John Derek Chamberlain.

Thousands of pages of transcripts released Monday by the Superior Court showed a jail system out of control, with deputies failing to perform even cursory patrols of the jail barracks, instead relying on jail “shotcallers” – or inmate leaders – to enforce the rules. The use of inmates to control other inmates is against department policy, but deputies violated rule after rule in an effort to do as little work as possible, records show.

Documents released Monday show that grand jurors found during its nine-month probe that:

* Sheriff’s employees testified falsely and violated the panel’s secrecy laws, comparing notes on their testimony and disclosing questions asked by jurors.
* The sheriff’s department dragged its heels in complying with subpoenas, providing only partial information if any information at all.
* Guards in charge of the barracks where Chamberlain was housed had not checked on the inmates for six hours prior to the slaying, although they recorded in the official log that they had made checks every 30-minutes. Testimony showed that sometimes the logs were prepared in advance of the shift. On the day Chamberlain died, the log was changed to reflect that he was not concerned for his safety.
* Sheriff’s officials routinely disclosed inmate charges to the public at the time Chamberlain was assaulted. In fact, prior to his death, Chamberlain’s information had been given to as many as 10 anonymous callers.

The full report can be read here, and I encourage review of it. Among other delights — the fact that one Michael Carona took the Fifth Amendment when he was asked a simple question regarding whether he was in fact the sheriff at the time. Suave.

Right now the OC Sheriff’s office — hell, the whole department — is arguably in even more of a mess than ever, for good reason. Scott Moxley’s latest portrayal of the run-up to the selection of a new sheriff says plenty. But it’s the comments section of the first story I’ve linked which has had me thinking a bit, and I hope to have more to say about thoughts in there tonight.

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