LOS ANGELES – The Justice Department today announced it has opened a civil investigation into allegations of discriminatory policing by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) members based in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, Calif.
Deputies have been accused of discriminating against mostly minority residents of government-subsidized housing.
The Justice Department will seek to determine whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law, including the Fair Housing Act, by deputies of these LASD stations.
The investigation will focus on allegations that the LASD has sought to identify during routine traffic stops individuals who use Housing Choice Vouchers, commonly known as Section 8, to subsidize housing costs for low income families.
In addition, the investigation will examine allegations that t he LASD has conducted warrantless searches of Black families’ homes under the auspices of housing authority compliance inspections, and that housing authority investigators based in the Lancaster and Palmdale sheriff’s stations have been accompanied by sheriff’s deputies as they conduct routine housing contract compliance checks.
Residents complained that the deputies have approached the Section 8 recipient’s home with guns drawn and in full SWAT armor and conduct searches and questioning themselves, unrelated to the housing program.
In addition, the Justice Department has an ongoing investigation under the Fair Housing Act of the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster, as well as of the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, to determine whether there has been a systematic effort to discriminate against Blacks and Latinos.