Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has launched a pair of internal reviews into a team of deputies who have pulled over thousands of innocent Latino drivers on the 5 Freeway in a search for drugs.
Sheriff’s officials told the department’s civilian oversight commission on Thursday that auditors were examining data on the traffic stops and the department’s constitutional policing advisor is reviewing the team’s practices amid allegations that deputies engaged in racial profiling along the highway.
The announcement came as commission members questioned department brass about the team’s work and a Times investigation that found the deputies stopped and searched the vehicles of Latino drivers at far higher rates than motorists of other racial or ethnic groups.
Chief John Benedict and Capt. Robert Lewis, who oversee the Domestic Highway Enforcement Team, denied that deputies target Latino drivers as they make stops along a rural, 40-mile stretch of the freeway near Santa Clarita.
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