LA Sheriff Having a Hard Time Firing Liars

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Jim McDonnell, LA County’s new sheriff, thinks that deputies who lie on official reports should be terminated for cause. For example, there’s Daniel Genao, who wrote that there was a gun in a suspect’s waistband when it was actually behind a nearby planter. You’d think it would be hard to argue against firing folks like this. But you’d be wrong:

To fully implement his strict regime, McDonnell must contend with the Civil Service Commission, a five-member body appointed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors that adjudicates discipline cases of county employees. In the last year, the commission has reinstated Genao as well as a deputy who lied about whether he had tried to take a photo under a woman’s skirt and another deputy found to have falsely asserted that he had not witnessed a colleague beat up a jail inmate.

….Sean Van Leeuwen, vice president of the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, a union representing deputies, criticized McDonnell’s “one size fits all” approach to honesty. “Was this a bad act or was this a bad heart?” Van Leeuwen said. “Did you do something wrong because you made a mistake, or was this really a bad act?”

….The hearing officer concluded that dismissal was excessive because Genao admitted to the false statement and was a popular, well-respected deputy. Other deputies have ended up on the Brady list1 yet remained on the job, and Genao could work a non-patrol assignment, the hearing officer noted.

How is it that we can happily apply zero-tolerance rules to five-year-olds who bring butter knives to school, but not to full-grown sheriff’s deputies who lie on official reports? And in what universe does it make sense to say that other deputies have lied and kept their jobs, so why shouldn’t Genao? If we want to understand why so many people of color don’t trust cops, this is a pretty good place to start.

1From the article: “In the landmark Brady vs. Maryland case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors must turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense. Local prosecutors keep a so-called Brady list of officers with credibility issues, which defense attorneys can use to undermine the officers’ testimony, potentially derailing criminal cases.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate