Days of Dialogue
The Commission hosts educational conferences that bring law enforcement, criminal justice professionals, academics, media and elected officials together with the public to propel community conversations to discuss visions for the future of law enforcement in Los Angeles County.
Community Events and Speakers Bureau
The Commission regularly participates in community events that promote and foster our vision to facilitate public transparency and accountability with respect to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The Speakers Bureau offers information and material dissemination to business groups, community organizations and schools. To request a presentation from the Commission or submit an invitation to your event, email us at email@example.com.
Police Officer Decertification
Every day, many peace officers across the country assist the community and intervene during tense, emotional and sometimes crisis situations. For those peace officers, the community is grateful. However, when they act outside of their duty to protect and actively engage in misconduct, the consequences to the community can be dire. Too often when peace officers who engage in misconduct are discovered, they quietly leave their employer and simply move to a different law enforcement agency and continue their misconduct in another jurisdiction. In 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 2 into law, which creates a decertification process to prohibit officers who engage in misconduct from regaining eligibility for peace officer employment anywhere in California.
The virtual conference discussed the process and circumstances when the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) can revoke certifications for peace officers so that those individuals will be disqualified from peace officer employment in California. The panel discussed the decertification database housed by POST and touched on the criteria necessary to include a peace officer on the Brady list, when a peace officer can be relieved of duty in accordance with the civil service rules, and when a peace officer can be charged with a crime.
Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission Interim Executive Director Danielle Butler Vappie provided remarks, and the event was moderated by Commission Chair Sean Kennedy, who also serves as Executive Director for Loyola Law School's Center for Juvenile Law & Policy. Speakers included Manuel Alvarez Jr., Executive Director, Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training; Annemarie Del Mugnaio, Assistant Executive Director, Standards and Accountability Division, Peace Officer Standards & Training; Ernie Arce, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Diana M. Teran, Director of Prosecution Support, Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office; Max Huntsman, Los Angeles County Inspector General; Mayra Joachin, Staff Attorney at ACLU of Southern California.
Deputies in Schools Series
The Commission hosted a series of virtual conferences that focused on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department School Resource Deputy program. School Resource Deputies are sworn law enforcement officers whose duty it is to protect students and faculty and to secure the campus. Their purpose is to improve school safety. The series was moderated by Commissioner Luis S. Garcia, who is a statewide behavioral mental health consultant, and opening remarks were provided by Danielle Butler Vappie, the Commission's Interim Executive Director. In addition to a live Q&A session, the community was also encouraged to provide written public comments. View the written public comments related to deputies in schools online here.
Background & Overview - Session 1
On July 27, 2023, the expert panelists provided a background and overview of the topic. In recent years, high profile use of force incidents and several reports indicating racial profiling of students raises concerns about the presence of deputies in schools. This session brought together experts to discuss how the program began, the purpose and protocols, and areas for improvements.
Speakers included Mourad Kabanjian, Sergeant, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; Kelly Fischer, Deputy Director, Office of Violence Prevention; Raquel Derfler and Raycine Ector, Co-Chairs of Cancel the Contract; and Dara Williams, Chief Deputy, Office of Inspector General.
Balancing Safety & Equity - Session 2
On July 31, 2023, the conversation continued while panelists dove into the goals and obstacles of balancing safety and equity while deputies are in schools. While School Resource Deputies are tasked to ensure school safety, there is debate about the impact of engagement these officers have with students. It is important to protect our children in schools by maintaining safety and preventing tragedies. However, with several reports showing racial profiling in some schools, exploring better ways to maintain safe environments should be prioritized. This panel discussed the fine line between maintaining safety in schools and improving equity among students by touching on areas of concern, best practices for staffing and engagement, and specific steps to expand equity.
Speakers included Gary Hardie, Jr., President, Lynwood Unified School District Board of Education; Salvador Arias, Board Member, California School Resource Officers Association; Chelsea Helena, Associate Supervising Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County’s Education Rights Practice; Dr. Jaime E. Hernandez, Ed.D. & Associates, Inc. (Referrals to School Resource Deputies in the Antelope Valley and report); and Cesar Sanchez, Senior Analyst, L.A. County Anti-Racism, Diversity, & Inclusion initiative.
Ensuring Outcomes & Accountability - Session 3
On August 3, 2023, the final session highlighted the goals of school security and how districts, schools, parents, and students can work toward improved outcomes for students and ensuring accountability for all. While refining best practices to ensure safety on school campuses, it is important to prioritize students’ successful outcomes and focus on accountability. Panelists highlighted best practices for hiring and maintaining appropriate staff, including security and other services. A teacher also discussed if the programs intended to protect the students and staff are meeting those goals. This session brought together experts to share ideas for improvements as well as streamlining efforts to ensure that best practices are implemented across all schools.
Speakers included Barron Gardner, Teacher, Antelope Valley High School; Rudy Perez, President, National Association of School Resource Officers; Jewel Forbes, L.A. County Office of Education's Community Health & Safe Schools; and Amir Whitaker, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU of Southern California.
LASD Jails Series
The virtual conference series focused on efforts related to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department jails. The series was moderated by Commissioner Luis S. Garcia, who is a statewide behavioral mental health consultant, and opening remarks were provided by Danielle Butler Vappie, Commission Interim Executive Director. In addition to a live Q&A session, the community was also encouraged to provide written public comments.
Life Inside a 6x8 Cell - Session 1
On Thursday, May 4, the Commission hosted a virtual conference to discuss living conditions for people inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Jails. Regularly inspected by outside agencies to ensure the conditions are humane, the jails should provide at least the minimum standards as required by law.
Expert panelists shared their thoughts about what is it really like living inside a 6x8 foot cell. Speakers reviewed incarcerated people's daily routines, with a focus on basic needs such as food, running water, and laundry. We also discussed other areas that affect a person’s wellbeing – such as access to sunlight, appropriate temperatures, cleanliness, personal space, and ability to sleep.
Speakers included Melissa Camacho, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Southern California; Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson, Dignity and Power Now’s Co-Executive Director and Sybil Brand Commission Chair; Los Angeles County Office of Inspector General Chief Deputy Dara Williams and Monitor Investigator Andre Harmandjian; and Sergio Aloma, Assistant Sheriff of Custody Operations, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Can People Get Well in a Cell? - Session 2
On Monday, May 22, the Commission hosted a virtual conference to discuss the wellbeing of people incarcerated in LASD jails. LASD’s Custody Operations is responsible for the care, custody, security, and rehabilitation of all sentenced and pretrial incarcerated people housed within their facilities. Although rehabilitation is part of their responsibility, some still question, “Can people get well in a cell?” This session focused on institutional services for improved rehabilitation including access to physical and mental health services, education-based programs, and community connections.
Speakers included Kerry Morrison, Heart Forward LA founder and Project Director; Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Correctional Health Services Director, Dr. Timothy Belavich; Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health Director, Dr. Lisa Wong; and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Director Dr. Melissa Kelley and team to discuss education-based programs, mail services, visitation, and book donations.
Transitioning Out of Jail - Session 3
On May 31, 2023, the conference discussed incarcerated people’s transition out of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) jails. Once someone has served their time, the case is dropped, or bail has posted, they are released from the jail. But, then what? These panelists discussed efforts to ensure that people who are exiting jail are provided with warm handoffs to connect them to services they need. This session focused on transitional services for reintroduction into the community, including connections to services for housing, food, health coverage, transportation and job training and opportunities.
Speakers included Vanessa Martin, Reentry Division Director, L.A. County Justice, Care and Opportunities Department; Sherri Cheatham, Division Chief, Department of Public Social Services; Dr. Jennifer Hunt, Acting Senior Deputy Director, Reentry Services Division, Department of Mental Health; and Joe Covarrubias, Lieutenant, Community Transition Unit, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Reducing Recidivism - Session 4
On June 12, 2023, the conference highlighted efforts in Los Angeles County to reduce recidivism. When someone is confined to jail, their life can forever change – jobs can be lost, relationships severed, and homes are no longer the same. The atmosphere in jail is not always rehabilitative and some transitions out of the justice system can be hampered by many things that lead to recidivism. This session focused on efforts from various County Departments to reduce the likelihood that people end up cycling in and out of jail.
Speakers included Katherine Vacanti, Director of Reentry Workforce & Education Programs, L.A. County Justice, Care and Opportunities Department; Kelly LoBianco, Director, Department of Economic Opportunity; Dr. Jennifer Hunt, Acting Senior Deputy Director, Reentry Services Division, Department of Mental Health; and Albert Banuelos, Director, Los Angeles County Probation.
LASD Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-2024
On Thursday, March 2 from 9:00-10:30 a.m., the Commission also hosted a virtual conference to discuss the County's budget process and the Sheriff Department's budget priorities and unmet needs for Fiscal Year 2023-2024. This conference brought together County leaders, law enforcement professionals, community partners, academics and members of the public to discuss the County's budget process as well as the Sheriff Department's budget priorities and unmet needs.
Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission Interim Executive Director Danielle Butler Vappie provided remarks, and the event was moderated by Commission Vice Chair Jamon R. Hicks and Commission member James P. Harris. Speakers included Sheila Williams, Senior Manager, L.A. County Chief Executive Office; Jill Torres, Assistant Sheriff and Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; and Melanie Ochoa, Police Practices Director, ACLU of Southern California.
Play the video below or view the YouTube recording.
Street Takeovers: Impacting Public Safety
On Wednesday, September 7, 2022, the Commission hosted a virtual conference to discuss street takeovers and how they impact our communities. Local experts discussed law enforcement efforts to monitor, mitigate and eliminate street takeovers, as well as limitations in addressing public safety concerns associated with street takeovers. The panel featured leadership from a nonprofit organization passionate about creating awareness regarding the dangers of illegal street racing and reckless driving.
Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission Executive Director Brian K. Williams provided opening remarks, and the event was moderated by Civilian Oversight Commissioner Irma Hagans Cooper. Speakers included Assembly member Adrin Nazarian, California District 46; Sergeant Michael Downing, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Officer Chris Baldonado, Street Takeover Taskforce, California Highway Patrol; and Lili Trujillo Puckett, Executive Director for Street Racing Kills. Play the video below or view the YouTube recording.
L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Budget: Priorities & Unmet Needs
The virtual conference, hosted by the COC on March 24, 2022, brought together County leaders, law enforcement professionals, community partners, academics, and members of the public to discuss the County's budget process and LASD’s budget priorities and unmet needs for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
L.A. County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission Chair and Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law & Policy Executive Director Sean Kennedy provided the opening remarks, and the event was moderated by Civilian Oversight Commissioner James P. Harris. Speakers included L.A. County Chief Executive Office Senior Manager Sheila Williams, who explained the County’s Budget Cycle. Next, LASD Administration Services Bureau Division Director Conrad Meredith discussed LASD’s budget challenges and opportunities, and Dignity and Power Now’s Policy and Advocacy Director Ivette Alé highlighted AB 109, LASD public relations and electronic monitoring expansion. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.
Corrective Action: Learning from our Mistakes
On Thursday, October 28, 2021, the Commission hosted a virtual conference for the community to learn how Los Angeles County monitors its Departments’ operations, investigates each incident to determine the root cause, and develops recommendations to prevent similar events from recurring. In this conference, panel speakers explained the accountability measures to monitor, correct and prevent failures to conform to departmental policies.
Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission Chair & Loyola Law School Professor Priscilla Ocen provided the opening remarks, and the event was moderated by Civilian Oversight Commissioner James P. Harris. Speakers included Destiny Castro, Chief Executive Office Risk Management Branch Inspector General; Sgt. Melynie Rivers, LASD Risk Management Bureau; Max Huntsman, Los Angeles County Inspector General; and Eric Miller, Loyola Law School Professor. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.
Qualified Immunity: When Protecting Officers Leaves the Community Vulnerable
On Thursday, July 29, 2021, the Commission hosted a virtual conference for the community to learn about qualified immunity protections afforded to law enforcement officers. Across the United States, law enforcement officers have been accused of committing numerous bad acts. When private citizens attempted to take the officers to court, their cases are most often dismissed. In most instances, this is because of the court-made doctrine of qualified immunity. In this conference, panel speakers explained what qualified immunity is and how it functions. The panelists highlighted concerns about holding law enforcement officers accountable for violating people’s civil rights and discussed the obstacles of eliminating qualified immunity. Panelists also provided an update on what is being done at the state and federal level to eliminate qualified immunity and provide solutions as to what oversight bodies can do to assist in the fight to hold law enforcement officers accountable.
The event was moderated by Priscilla Ocen, Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission Chair & Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and Brian K. Williams, Esq. Executive Director of the Commission. Speakers included Joanna Schwartz, Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law; James Wheeler, Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) President; John Raphling, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher on Criminal Justice for the U.S. program; and Timothy K. Talbot, Attorney at Law, Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.
Money: How is L.A. County’s Public Safety Budget Prioritized?
On Thursday, April 1, 2021, the Commission held Part 1 of the conference on public safety budgets where subject matter experts from the County described the budget process, their department's public safety budget priorities and highlighted opportunities for community feedback. Speakers included: Lael Rubin, Commission Chair & Former Deputy District Attorney; Casimiro U. Tolentino, Commission Vice Chair, Former Administrative Law Judge for the State of California; and L.A. County representatives: Chief Executive Office Senior Manager Sheila Williams; Sheriff’s Department Administrative Services Division Director Conrad Meredith; Sheriff’s Department Personnel Division Commander John McBride; Mental Health's Director Jonathan E. Sherin; and Probation's Administrative Deputy Robert Smythe. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.
Money: Community Voices on L.A. County Public Safety Spending
On Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Commission held Part 2 of the conference on public safety brought together community and County leaders, academics, law enforcement professionals and members of the public to highlight communities’ thoughts on the L.A. County budget process and public safety budget priorities. Speakers included: Lael Rubin, Commission Chair & Former Deputy District Attorney; James P. Harris, Civilian Oversight Commission member & Former Sheriff’s Lieutenant; Greg Hellmold, Auditor-Controller Office of County Investigations; Jody David Armour, Professor of Law, University of Southern California; Harry Leon, Crescenta Valley Town Council President; and Ivette Alé, Dignity and Power Now. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.
Enhancing Accountability: Improving the Law Enforcement Officer Discipline Process
On Thursday, February 25, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission hosted a virtual conference that brought together community partners, elected officials, law enforcement professionals & members of the public to discuss law enforcement misconduct, discipline & the potential for accountability reform. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.