The number of alcohol-related incidents involving employees of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has shot up this year, increasing 37% over the first five months of 2009, according to a recent report by the county's Office of Independent Review. This news is all the more disturbing because last year's report had already called the department's drinking problem "intractable."
Just last month, for instance, a deputy who had been drinking at a local restaurant was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after firing his handgun into the air on the Redondo Beach Pier; his girlfriend and nearby fishermen restrained him until officers arrived. In another incident, an off-duty deputy with two previous alcohol-related offenses, including drunk driving, was arrested on suspicion of firing her gun while under the influence. Many of the incidents, according to the new report, involve younger deputies. But the problem extends further, "ensnaring mature officers, first-line supervisors and females alike."