A deputy at the L.A. County Men's Central Jail was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness during the USC- UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl, marking the latest allegation of off-duty wrongdoing by jail guards.
Deputy Joseph Gonzalez was arrested by Pasadena police on a misdemeanor charge during the Dec. 4 game. The Sheriff's Department confirmed that Gonzalez was relieved of duty while an internal investigation was completed but would not say why, citing personnel rules.
Two weeks ago, seven deputies at Men's Central were relieved of duty after violence broke out at their employee Christmas party in Montebello. Gonzalez was placed on leave the same weekend as the seven, but a Sheriff's Department spokesman declined to say whether he was involved in the Christmas party incident.
"I cannot comment" on any connection, said spokesman Steve Whitmore. "Personnel matters are prohibited."
Alcohol is believed to have been served at the Christmas party, officials said, declining to say if it may have played a role in the fight that broke out.
A report published earlier this year detailed the department's continuing struggles with employees who drink on the job or whose drunkenness results in problems off the job. At the time, Sheriff Lee Baca acknowledged that the findings presented by a department watchdog showed the ineffectiveness of efforts sheriff's officials had made to crack down on problem drinking.
Sheriff's officials are still investigating the Christmas fight, which left at least two deputies injured at the Quiet Cannon banquet hall Dec. 10.
"The sheriff takes this very seriously," Whitmore said. "This will be completed sooner rather than later."
The seven deputies, whose identities have not been released, were relieved of duty with pay pending an investigation. About 100 guests, including sheriff's supervisors, had attended the party. As the night was winding down near midnight, local police received an anonymous 911 call reporting violence in the parking lot. Whitmore said recently transferred Men's Central Jail Capt. Daniel Cruz may have been jostled as he tried to calm the situation, but was not injured. At least two other deputies received medical attention, Whitmore said.
Pasadena Police Department spokeswoman Janet Pope-Givens said details on Gonzalez's public drunkenness arrest were scant.
"When you see somebody drunk, stumbling, belligerent, you take them in for their own safety and the safety of others," she said. "Bring them in, sober them up, cite them out."
Deputies arrested on misdemeanor charges are not typically relieved of duty, Whitmore said. Usually, they remain on the job but are monitored by the department. It's unclear why the department chose to remove Gonzales, who could not be reached for comment.