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Some members of a Los Angeles County watchdog panel are calling on Sheriff Jim McDonnell to launch a thorough investigation into allegations of a secret society of deputies that brands its members with matching skull tattoos.

The revelation this week that a deputy admitted to getting inked two years ago as part of a ritual within the Compton station has raised concerns that deputy cliques, long part of a controversial agency subculture, have persisted despite the department’s reform efforts.

Hernán Vera, who serves on the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, said the deputy’s admission in a lawsuit over a fatal shooting that he and as many as 20 others have the signature tattoos was “thoroughly disturbing.”

“It’s not the kind of culture that you want to foster in the 21st century Sheriff’s Department,” said Vera, a principal in the law firm Bird Marella.

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