Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tattoo in Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy clique may have celebrated shootings, sources say

The investigation into a secret clique within the Los Angeles County sheriff's elite gang unit has uncovered allegations that members had matching tattoos of a gun-toting skeleton, which deputies would modify to celebrate their involvement in a shooting, according to sources close to the internal probe.

One deputy, who has admitted belonging to a clique called the "Jump Out Boys," has identified about half a dozen other deputies as members, one source confirmed. Those men are expected to be summoned for interviews with internal affairs investigators, the source said.

Suspicion about the group's existence was sparked several weeks ago when a supervisor discovered a pamphlet laying out the group's creed, which promoted aggressive policing and portrayed officer shootings in a positive light.

The pamphlet was found in the vehicle used by the deputy who acknowledged his association with the clique, according to sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.

Days after The Times reported on the discovery of the pamphlet, the captain of the division gathered his deputies for a private briefing, during which he told them they had shamed the department by forming the group and urged those responsible to identify themselves, a source with knowledge of the unit's inner workings said.

At some point, one deputy came forward, and he has since named about six others, the source said.

Internal affairs investigators are trying to determine whether the deputies violated Sheriff's Department rules or committed serious misconduct.

The deputies under scrutiny all work on the Gang Enforcement Team, a unit divided into two platoons of relatively autonomous deputies whose job is to target neighborhoods where gang violence is high, locate armed gang members and take their guns away.

The design of the tattoo, confirmed by two sources, includes an oversize skull with a wide, toothy grimace and glowing red eyes. A bandanna wraps around the skull, imprinted with the letters "OSS" — representing Operation Safe Streets, the name of the larger unit that the Gang Enforcement Team is part of. A bony hand clasps a revolver. Investigators suspect that smoke is tattooed over the gun's barrel after a member is involved in a shooting.

To the left of the skull are two playing cards — an ace and an eight — apparently an allusion to the "dead man's" poker hand, sources said.

One source compared the notion of modifying the tattoo after a shooting to a celebratory "high five."

Celebrating shootings and sporting matching tattoos were hallmarks of anti-gang officers in the LAPD's troubled Rampart Division in the late 1990s.

A corruption scandal erupted after one disgraced officer implicated himself and others in covering up bad shootings, planting evidence, falsifying reports and perjuring themselves to rid the streets of gang members and drug dealers.

In fact, the tattoo allegedly embraced by the Jump Out Boys is reminiscent of the one inked on Rampart officers, which consisted of a grinning skull in a cowboy hat with pairs of aces and eights fanned out in the background.

Sources say there is no evidence that deputies alleged to be in the clique have been involved in improper shootings or other misconduct. But the new revelations have heightened concerns.

The modified tattoos could also pose problems for the department in future litigation, making it more difficult for county attorneys to argue against lawsuits alleging bad shootings.

Sheriff Lee Baca's spokesman, Steve Whitmore, declined to discuss details of the investigation because it is ongoing. "We take this very seriously," he said. "This is absolutely no joke whatsoever."

The department has been grappling with unsanctioned cliques in its ranks for decades.

Last year, the department fired a group of deputies who all worked on the third, or "3000," floor of Men's Central Jail after the group fought two fellow deputies at an employee Christmas party and allegedly punched a female deputy in the face.

Sheriff's officials later said the men had formed an aggressive "3000" clique that used gang-like three-finger hand signs. A former top jail commander told The Times that jailers would "earn their ink" by breaking inmates' bones.

The Jump Out Boys, sources said, was a name coined by Compton-area gang members alluding to how quickly deputies from the unit would jump out of patrol vehicles to stop them.

Other cliques — with names like Grim Reapers, Little Devils, Regulators and Vikings — have been accused of breeding a gang-like mentality in which deputies falsify police reports, perjure themselves and cover up misconduct. Past affiliation with such groups reaches the highest levels of the department.

Baca acknowledged last year that his second-in-command, Paul Tanaka, has a Vikings tattoo. Tanaka has said the Vikings was a nickname for deputies assigned to the Lynwood station and did not represent anything sinister.

Some argue that the groups are not inherently problematic, providing cops working a dangerous job with camaraderie and emotional support. Experts say cliques become a problem when they push officers to put their comrades ahead of the law and department policy.

What investigators are most concerned about with the Jump Out Boys isn't the alleged matching tattoos, but the suspected admiration they show for shootings. Officer-involved shootings are expected to be events of last resort.

Maria Haberfeld, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who specializes in police ethics and training, said joining police subcultures makes officers "vulnerable to be compromised by group think and group pressure." Tattoos that further distinguish officers involved in shootings, she said, are particularly problematic.

"Even though they are authorized to use deadly force, I don't think it's a cause for celebration," she said. "When you reach a point in your career that you have no choice but to use deadly force, if anything it's incredibly traumatic for the shooter. It's a little bizarre to commemorate a tragic event."

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

And this is a problem, how? ?

Anonymous said...

I see zero problem with this. You want hard nosed coppers that are going to get the job done in the ghetto that aren't afraid of being in a gun fight, you got them. If you wanted a bunch of flower toting coppers for image purposes, hire a horticulturalist.

Anonymous said...

if you ever go to new york you will be treated like a long lost brother in arms,but on the other hand if you go to los angeles you will be looked upon as a leper in their town and will be treated like shit.

Anonymous said...

So what's the problem? It was done to 'rid the streets of gangs and drugs.'

Jingo Jay said...

I'm sorry, as long as there is no crimes committed, what's the problem here?

Anonymous said...

Ok pretty stupid move! didn't members of guns and roses have a similar tatoo!

Anonymous said...

L.A. LA-LA Land
Cops, what a bunch of childish fruitcakes. Couldn't get Hitler convicted of jay-walking

Anonymous said...

That's very gay. What's next, all the Lost Saints getting similar tattoos on their ass?

Anonymous said...

And the just what is the problem again?

I Voted For Obama said...

Maria Haberfeld voted for Obama, then told him she didn't think it was a cause for celebration.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

Anonymous said...

is everyone in California a fuckin retard? or wha?


too much sun and nice weather fucks your brain

Anonymous said...

All the ex-TRU/MSF guys must be shitting their pants. Of course their ink only detailed vehicle impounds and ANOV's.Good luck fellas.

Anonymous said...

This country is circling the drain! They're in a clique? So fucking what! What's next? Eliminate logos in the armed forces. There's not one thing wrong with celebrating your involvement in an elite unit.

Anonymous said...

The Jump Out Boys, How fuckin Corny can you get ? What's next out there, the Justin Bieber Boys ???
LA, HA-HA-HAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA

Anonymous said...

SOS tattoo a pic of Brett R's cock on their butt check to remind them of the deep anal penetration he provided them.

Long live mighty cock!

Anonymous said...

Definitely something the hair gels in TRU/MSF/SOS/025 would do.

Anonymous said...

IT GIVES YOU ENERGY!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe in tattoos and i never worked at the circus but this seems overblown.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

tru & msf had tattoos

Anonymous said...

You're kidding me? This is wrong? God forbid their be any espirit de corps or show any pride in your work. Beef on excessive force, OK. Beef on illegal activity, OK. Beef on unit pride? WTF? WTF???

Anonymous said...

We need that clique back from Magnum Force.
I still don't understand why Dirty Harry didn't join up with David Soul.

Anonymous said...

So the public and L.A. county want the sheriff's department to go after gang members and get guns off the street, but not to enjoy their job or have unit camaraderie? It takes a certain personality to do that job, and whether you like it or not, this is it. I don't see a problem here.

That 5100 Car said...

It usually is cause for celebration when the prick that pulled a gun and tried to kill you, doesn't...And you have to feel bad for that asshole because?

Anonymous said...

Just like TRU baby. Our tatts were better and we were badder.

James Riddle Hoffa said...

New contract:

All officers under investigation will be compensated at double time pay and accumulate double benefits,holidays,duty avail....
Ohhhhhhh chit ¿

Just double everything and triple everything unless. it's sustained beyond a reasonable doubt at the next union meeting.

Anonymous said...

CPD HAD a unit called the Task Force. (TF) on the shoulder patch. They conducted agressive pro-active policing. The getto community declared task force was an opressive term. The city folded and the name changed to SOS. It' been down hill ever since.

Anonymous said...

Some departments forbid tattoos that are visable to the naked eye. Far too many officers look more and more thuggish by the day. I have no problem with tattoos, I think some are very cool. Just keep them to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Let's see... same dress, colors and codes for communicating?

FACT: The Police--biggest legalized government endorsed gang out there.

So some cops are like immature frat boys and decide they want to bond further by having same tatts. HOO RAHH!! Glad they love their job.

Nothing to see here ladies, move along now...

Anonymous said...

Tom Ohap has a tattoo that says "Hells Angels" along with a HA death head on his arm. Only one problem.....He's not a Hells Angel. He's abourt 140 pounds soaking wet. You've seen him. He's the white crack head lookin guy with blond hair and a big nose. He stands on the corner selling flowers all somer at 111 & Pulaski, 87th & WEstern etc.

i hope the real hells angels tough guys dont see that.

musical encyclopedia said...

The jump out boys is a name for the police used on some rap albums from the 90s. Usually Southern rap from the 5th Ward (Houston) area. A funny side story: my brother was once stopped by a policeman who was named John Law.

Anonymous said...

pretty fucking stupid... But what about their 1st amendment rights Freedom of speech. Coppers have rights just like private citizens...

I Voted For Obama said...

Justin Beiber is cute and he did vote for Obama.