L.A. County Sheriff’s Officials Ignored Red Flags About Team That Stopped Latino Drivers on 5 Freeway: Report

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies take a driver to wait in a patrol car so they can search his car in this undated photo. (Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies take a driver to wait in a patrol car so they can search his car in this undated photo. (Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department team that pulled over thousands of motorists on the 5 Freeway in search of drugs “had a constitutionally troubling impact on Latino drivers,” the county inspector general’s office concluded in a widely anticipated report.

In a rebuke of the Sheriff’s Department released Friday, the county Office of Inspector General said that not only were Latinos targeted at a much higher rate, but the effectiveness of the sheriff’s special team — which was created to stop the flow of drugs in the Santa Clarita Valley area — was unclear.

Moreover, the report said, the effect on Latinos has “the potential to negatively impact the public’s trust” in the Sheriff’s Department.

“Latinos were both stopped and searched at much greater rates than other racial or ethnic groups, and yet, there was a very low rate of success in finding contraband” — less than 2%, the report said of the unit, officially called the Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Highway Enforcement Team. The unit focused on Interstate 5 between the Kern County line and Highway 14.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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