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Maywood police face further scrutiny

March 04, 2007|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown has announced plans to conduct a "top to bottom" review of the Maywood Police Department, following allegations of sexual misconduct, racism and brutality among officers in the small suburb southeast of Los Angeles.

The probe, made public Friday, comes amid residents' growing anger toward the 37-member department.

Officers have been accused of beating residents and stalking and sexually abusing women. One woman said an officer groped her 14-year-old daughter.

Critics have charged that the department's afternoon sobriety checks were designed to snare unlicensed illegal immigrants and generate money. About 96% of the city's population is Latino and more than half are foreign born.

The City Council recently stopped those checks, and said it would become a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants.

That sparked tension in town, with some opposed to having the Police Department cease its afternoon checkpoints.

Earlier this year, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles), who represents the area, told the Maywood City Council he was troubled by the allegations against the Police Department.

Nunez and the council then requested that Brown's office investigate.

In a March 1 letter to Nunez, Brown said his office would review the department's training, supervision, use of force and citizen complaints.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office and the FBI also are investigating the department, Maywood City Councilman Sam Pena said.

Pena said he thought the Police Department had "done all the right things" in investigating internally and cooperating with outside investigations.

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jessica.garrison@latimes.com

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