Gail Fry | IE Voice News & Black Voice News Contributor
At a February 23, 2023, press conference, California State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced he is opening an investigation into the Riverside Sheriff’s Department seeking to determine whether the sheriff’s office has engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.
Bonta explained that concerning levels of in custody deaths, troubling allegations of excessive force, Riverside jails reporting their deadliest year in two decades and other misconduct too, led to the State Attorney General’s decision to open an investigation into the Riverside Sheriff’s Department.
“This investigation comes amid deeply concerning allegations relating to conditions of confinement in the office’s jail facilities, excessive force, and other misconduct,” Bonta voiced also citing, “These concerns have been repeatedly voiced by community leaders, members of the media, families of those who have lost loved ones and more.”
“Some communities don’t see or feel they are being treated equitably by law enforcement. It contributes to distrust and hurts public safety,” Bonta acknowledged, explaining, “ When there is trust that trust in turn contributes to increased public safety.”
“Unfortunately, today’s announcement is necessary because that trust between Riverside County Sheriff’s Office and the community it serves is in peril,” Bonta said, “Bottom line whether you have a loved one in jail or are worried about crime in your neighborhood, we all benefit when there is action to ensure the integrity of policing in our state.”
“It is time for us to shine a light on the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office and its practices,” Bonta declared.
“My office will use its full authority under the California Constitution to determine whether the sheriff’s office has engaged in a pattern or a practice of violating state or federal law,” Bonta promised, adding, “And if so, identify and compel the correction of any systemic violations of the community’s constitutional and civil rights, we are launching this investigation today.”
“So I need to be clear that at this time, we have made no determinations about specific allegations or complaints,” Bonta clarified, “In the days and months ahead, our investigation will be thorough, it will be comprehensive, it will be impartial.”
“We will work to ensure that the civil rights of the people of Riverside County are respected. all Californians deserve fairness and respect from the institutions that serve them,” Bonta voiced, “I encourage anyone with relevant information to please contact our civil rights enforcement section you can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org..”
“In addition to English, members of the public may send information in Spanish and in other languages,” Bonta assured, “During the course of our investigation, we will work diligently to consider all relevant information including from community members, organizations, local officials, oversight entities, the sheriff’s office itself and individual deputies will be again comprehensive and thorough.”
“I’m committed to this work to ensuring our residents and civil rights are protected to strengthening trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Bonta confirmed. “It’s a critical component of our broader efforts to increase public safety for all Californians. Ensuring public trust, and keeping our communities and officers safe is not mutually exclusive.”
Bonta concluded, “When we strengthen trust in policing, we keep our communities safer for officers, safer for residents, safer for all.”