After reviewing the Special COC report regarding deputy gangs at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released last Wednesday, Aero Bureau Captain Blanca Arevalo sent an email to her subordinates at the elite division expressing her extreme anger and disappointment her bureau was listed as one of the six deputy gangs at the department.
“Yesterday afternoon, I received word that the Special Counsel to the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) finalized their findings regarding their year-long investigation into “deputy gangs” and “deputy cliques” within our Department. Part of their findings which you can find on page 33-34 of the report are listed below:
6. Aero Bureau
Aero Bureau is responsible for the Department’s helicopters. It has a small 34 number of assigned deputies who have the necessary pilot skills and wear a helmet that has as its logo a chicken being choked. The group is widely referred to as the “Ghetto Birds.”
A witness interviewed by COC’s staff described systematic harassment by the three senior Caucasian deputies in the Aero Bureau. The witness described them as a “clique” and the three as “shot callers.” The witness said that there were no African Americans assigned to the Aero Bureau and that as far as the witness knew there had been only one African American ever assigned to the Bureau. Another witness, a current deputy with 20 years of service who insisted upon anonymity for fear of retribution, confirmed that the Aero Bureau takes pride in the “Ghetto Bird” logo. The witness said that a leader of the Aero Bureau openly stated that he was a Viking and was a founder of the Regulators. Another leader is a tattooed member of the Spartans. The witness described the process of coordinated “humiliation” efforts directed by the shot callers to disfavored deputies. The shot callers encouraged the others at Aero Bureau to ignore disfavored deputies. The witness described systematic and routine harassment that caused many new deputies to leave the Bureau. The witness observed the shot callers mocking the accent of a Hispanic deputy and said that disfavored deputies had their pictures placed and defaced on bathroom walls. The action of a small, self-selected racially harmonious sub-group is consistent with evidence regarding how Deputy Gangs and Deputy Cliques acted in numerous stations throughout the Department. The use of racially charged and disparaging logos is also consistent with their problematic conduct. Such conduct is inconsistent with fundamental principles of professional policing.
As I read through this report, specifically the section listed above, a wave of emotions came over me. I was angry, shocked, and honestly speechless to say the least, when I saw Aero Bureau listed as one of six “deputy gangs and/or “deputy cliques” within the Department.
The next couple weeks will be very taxing for all of us. I ask that you please not let your emotions get the best of you. Be patient as I navigate through this.
I have walked through our bureau twice in the last five months and I have not observed any sticker or patch with a chicken being choked or the phrase “Ghetto Birds.” If any of you do have such said sticker or patch on your helmet or any other county own property, please remove it immediately.
Please feel free to call me or come by my office regarding your concerns.
Sources within the department told The Current Report deputy clique behavior has been at Aero Bureau for decades and reported on in the past, however, Arevalo seeing her bureau listed in the final COC report was clearly a shock given it is not in a high crime area and she, according to her email, has not witnessed clique behavior or seen any evidence of it existing under her command.
This should be an indication not all LASD command staff are aware of deputy cliques/gangs operating within their departments and this problem is potentially more widespread than the even COC report findings indicate.
This is a developing story.