Board Releases Findings Regarding Strip Search Of Gay Inmates
Board Says Deputies Acted Appropriately
POSTED: 6:53 pm PST March 7, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- An independent oversight group Tuesday said allegations that sheriff's deputies ridiculed gay inmates during a strip search last summer are unsubstantiated but recommended inmates be relocated.
The Office of Independent Review presented surveillance video of the strip search and a two-page summary of its findings to the Sheriff's Gay/Lesbian Advisory Group.
On July 19, 2005, 22 gay inmates at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles were strip searched as 10 deputies looked for drugs.
The inmates alleged the strip search was overly lengthy and held in an area exposing them to public viewing. Deputies also taunted the inmates and used derogatory language, the inmates said.
After reviewing surveillance video of the incident and interviewing 67 witnesses, the Office of Independent Review determined deputies behaved appropriately.
"Our review was able to disprove a number of the allegations," said Mike Gennaco of the Office of Independent Review. "We were able to prove that it was not overly lengthy. Based on other evidence, we were able to show it was not a pretextual search, the search had legitimacy."
Though the surveillance video shows the deputies laughing, Sheriff Lee Baca said the men were laughing at a G-string on the floor and not the inmates.
Even though the allegations were disproved, Gennaco recommended the department undergo sensitivity training and relocate gay inmates to one centralized location.
The department has not determined where those inmates should be housed, Gennaco said.
Baca also told the advisory board he would re-evaluate where searches occur.