Monday, April 4, 2016
[Tulare County] Grand Jury Releases Report on Sheriff’s Department
The Tulare County Grand Jury today released a report focusing on the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. The complaint came to the grand jury by way of an inmate who alleged physical abuse by staff in the county jail.
In its report, the grand jury states that it determined physical abuse did occur and unwarranted force was used, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department has since instituted comprehensive correctional officer training, hiring practice reforms, a review of disciplinary processes, and upgraded its technology.
The full press release from the grand jury:
The Tulare County Grand Jury today released its report in response to a Citizen’s Complaint relating to the manner in which an inmate in a county jail was transferred/transported from his cell. The complaint alleged physical abuse by jail staff.
The Tulare County Grand Jury began an investigation into this complaint by interviewing the complainant on two separate occasions. The Grand Jury reviewed numerous documents, videos and photographs. The Tulare County Sheriffs Department staff and Office of the Tulare County District Attorney staff were also interviewed.
The report contains eight (8) “facts,” seven (7) “findings,” and three (3) “recommendations.” Fact # 1 set forth in the report establishes that “The evidence substantiated that the complainant was involved in an incident occurring in the Tulare County Jail”. Fact #2 indicates “The Sheriffs Department has video cameras in place in the jails for purposes of safety and documentation.” Fact # 8 states “The Office of the District Attorney has the prosecutorial discretion to determine which cases will be prosecuted and those which will not.”
Among the report’s “findings” were: (1) “The Tulare County Sheriffs staff did not follow established use of force policies and procedures”; (2) “The Tulare County Grand Jury found inconsistencies between written reports and video footage”; (5) The Tulare County Grand Jury found misconceptions to exist on the part of the staff of the Office of the District Attorney with respect to the investigative role, jurisdiction, and responsibilities of the Grand Jury”; (6) “After review of all evidence presented, the Grand Jury determined that physical abuse occurred and unwarranted force was used”; and, (7) “The Grand Jury was not advised by the Office of the District Attorney as to the rationale for declining prosecution of this case.”
The report concludes with three specific recommendations as to steps which the Office of the Tulare County Sheriff might consider following in an effort to address the issues raised in the report.
April 1, 2016
By Valley Voice Contributor