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By Tammye McDuff
Hawaiian Gardens Council Chambers was packed to standing room only Tuesday evening, July 14, 2015. What began as the normal oral comments section for council meetings, turned out to be a two hour session of residents voicing their opinions, pain and concerns regarding the recent shooting of Johnny Ray Anderson.
Family members, friends and neighbors approached the Council one-by-one demanding to know why the sheriff in question was still on payroll. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Captain Rod Kusch, office in charge of this issue, responded saying, “There are a number of reasons why I can’t discuss this specific case, however I will explain the process that we use.” When the LA County Sheriffs’ department is called to a crime scene, there are seasoned investigators that respond, their purpose is to collect evidence and talk to witnesses. Also called out are members of the District Attorney’s Office, members of the Inspector General’s Office and those in the Internal Affairs Bureau. The purpose is to be able to put together all the evidence and coroners reports to form a complete view of the incident, “this could take many weeks or months,” noted Kusch, “typically it will take us around three months to get the report to the DA’s office.”
In an attempt to inform residents of new policies that are being put into place within the police department, Assistant Sheriff Michael Rothans spoke for Sheriff Jim McDonnell, “It is important to hear from the community. One of the new policies instituted is a critical review of all incidents. This is a quick look at each incident. We look at the practices and protocols, to see if we can do something different; do our job better so that we can react in a timelier manner.” There is a Deputy union, that in some ways protects police officers and their personal records, a Deputy cannot just be fired. Rothans noted “Because of these unions a criminal investigation must take place and then and administrative investigation. Until the investigation is completed the officer remains on payroll and on the force.”
Dan Baker, Chef Deputy at the Office of Inspector General [OIG] stepped to the microphone, “We are interested in making sure all the processes are thorough. Has all the information been collected correctly? We make sure that all the policies and practices are put into place.” The reporting of the OIG is to determine that the practices and investigative procedures are followed correctly, recommending that policies are revised if they are not working in the best interest of the general public.
It is unfortunate that Hawaiian Gardens has become known as a gang environment, due to the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens. It was brought to light that many innocent residents have been harassed by sheriffs’ just because they had been identified as living within the city. Bruce confessed to the fact that his own children had been detained by police, because their student I.D. stated Hawaiian Gardens. This particular gang, according to LA County Sheriffs has over 1,000 members with 365 members listed on the gang injunction. On March 7, 2008, the Court issued a permanent injunction against those involved with criminal street gang, which is tightly enforced in the “Safety Zone”.
“I understand that when someone wants justice, they want it now, but this is a lengthy process,” commented Bruce,” I want bad cops to be off the force, arrested and see jail time. We will continue to do the best investigation that we can possibly do, to bring justice to this situation.”
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