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California Sheriff Criticized on Injury Non-Treatment After Use of Force

A highly critical May 2006 report by the Riverside County Grand Jury found that at the five county jail lockups, a disturbing pattern had emerged where prisoners who were injured while being subdued often were not provided medical aid. Worse, Sheriff?s Dept. personnel frequently filed inaccurate reports and often could not produce videotapes that are required in all such incidents.

In its random search of Use of Force reports, the Grand Jury made five findings. It found that many of the reports were inaccurately completed; incident dates differed from witness reports and primary reports; pepper-sprayed prisoners were not given required medical assessment or treatment; videotapes were often missing, in spite of rules requiring a five-year retention period; and custody transfer orders were missing pertinent information. Further, although procedures were not uniform among the jails, deputies were permitted to bid overtime slots at facilities other than where they were trained.

The Grand Jury provided the Sheriff with five recommendations: 1) Scrupulously follow regulation 15 CCR, art. 1.5, § 3268.1(a), which requires documenting use-of-force incidents, 2) Immediately treat pepper-sprayed prisoners, 3) Follow General Orders to videotape all use-of-force incidents, 4) Train deputies on General Orders specifying transfer requirements and paperwork, and 5) Cross-train deputies who are shared between units.

Undersheriff Neil Lingle stated the department would respond in detail to the report, and a response was filed with the presiding judge of the Superior Court on May 30, 2006. In its response, the Sheriff?s Dept. agreed that many of the Use of Force reports had not been accurately completed and that videotapes of such incidents were missing, but took issue with the other findings.

Regarding the lack of medical treatment for prisoners who were pepper-sprayed, the Sheriff?s Dept. stated, ?Some of the reports positively report that an inmate was provided access to running water. Other reports remain silent on the issue. However, this does not establish a lack of treatment.?

The Riverside County Sheriff?s Dept. annual budget for corrections is $107 million, funding 1,064 employee positions.

Source: 2005-2006 Grand Jury Report, Riverside Co. Sheriff?s Dept., Corrections Division (

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