Steven Greenhut at the Register's Orange Punch Liberty Blog attended today's Board of Supervisors meeting and reports that Sheriff Mike Carona lost his bid to kill the concept of a civilian review panel.
Thanks to a surprising last-minute switch by Supervisor Bill Campbell, the vote was 5-0, according to Greenhut.
In 60 days, a detailed proposal will come back to the all-Republican board for consideration. Led by Supervisors John Moorlach and Chris Norby, the board has worked to increase scrutiny of Carona. Campbell had been vocally siding with Carona, who'd lobbied hard on the issue.
There are two versions of what is happening:
1. In late 2006, an inmate was beaten to death over an extended period of time in front of a jail deputy who claimed he didn't see the violence because he was watching television. Supervisors are alarmed at the apparent ineptitude and fear a knee-jerk departmental coverup.
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2. Moorlach is dishing out cheap political payback against the union that represents deputies who opposed his election. Jail deputies--and their managers--say they can police themselves because honesty is their virtue. The officers also claim that their actions are skeptically reviewed by numerous other law enforcement officers.
The laughter you hear is Greenhut, a conservative who has lead the charge in the media for a review panel and sides with Moorlach. In his report, Greenhut also observed:
The sheriff was prickly, occasionally snide and always defensive, which is disappointing but not surprising. Unfortunately, we don't have a forward-thinking sheriff like they have in Los Angeles County, where Lee Baca introduced the idea of independent oversight when he took office. DA Tony Rackauckas was professional in his demeanor, but he did nothing but criticize the idea.
Stay tuned. I'm sure the fight is far from over.