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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Offensive Humor Publication Surfaces in Sheriff's Office

September 30, 2000

SANTA ANA — Call it jailhouse humor, but top officials in the Orange County Sheriff's Department aren't laughing.

Wino News bills itself as a publication written by deputies for deputies--one that pokes fun at colleagues in what one issue says is an attempt to keep "our sanity and police our own" while working in the jail.

But the underground publication has sparked outrage among administrators who consider its contents offensive to those deputies--particularly minority officers--targeted in the newsletter.

The publication's humor ranges from sophomoric to offensive. The August issue contains a mock transfer list--closely resembling the format of real department memos--that has one deputy with a Latino surname sent to "Boarder Patrol." Another is moved from Theo Lacy Jail to the NAACP.

Until this week, most deputies familiar with Wino News believed it died years ago under pressure from supervisors. But after reading an issue dated Aug. 21, top sheriff's officials this week promised to launch a probe into who is behind the publication and to stop its dissemination.

"If it is one of our deputies who is distributing this, we want to find out who it is," said Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo, adding that someone other than a deputy might be responsible. Regardless, he said, "that person should not be involved in law enforcement."

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