Los Angeles County, California: Claims of racial profiling on 5 Freeway echo findings against sheriff’s deputies in Antelope Valley

For years, black and Latino residents in the Antelope Valley complained they were the victims of racially biased stops and searches along with other mistreatment by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.

The U.S. Department of Justice analyzed Sheriff’s Department data from tens of thousands of vehicle and pedestrian stops, interviewed hundreds of people and reviewed volumes of internal sheriff’s documents before concluding in a landmark case that deputies were engaged in a pattern of biased policing.

The findings forced the county to reach a legal settlement with federal authorities in 2013 that called for significant reforms and a team of monitors whose oversight continues today.

Now the Sheriff’s Department is facing new complaints of racial profiling in the neighboring Santa Clarita Valley over the work of a small team of deputies who have pulled over thousands of innocent Latino drivers on the 5 Freeway in a search for drug traffickers. And, as federal investigators did before, the sheriff’s independent watchdog is looking into the deputies’ actions.

Inspector General Max Huntsman said he is obtaining data from the Sheriff’s Department so his office can examine the deputies’ stops and try to decipher whether they have been targeting Latinos.