Are these isolated incidents or evidence that the entire police system has been corrupted with a mentality that views the people they are supposed to be protecting as enemies in a war?
Tattoo in sheriff's deputy clique may have celebrated shootings, sources say - latimes.com
The investigation into a secret clique within the Los Angeles County sheriff's elite gang unit has uncovered allegations that members had matching tattoos of a gun-toting skeleton, which deputies would modify to celebrate their involvement in a shooting, according to sources close to the internal probe.
One deputy, who has admitted belonging to a clique called the "Jump Out Boys," has identified about half a dozen other deputies as members, one source confirmed. Those men are expected to be summoned for interviews with internal affairs investigators, the source said.
Suspicion about the group's existence was sparked several weeks ago when a supervisor discovered a pamphlet laying out the group's creed, which promoted aggressive policing and portrayed officer shootings in a positive light.
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The design of the tattoo, confirmed by two sources, includes an oversize skull with a wide, toothy grimace and glowing red eyes. A bandanna wraps around the skull, imprinted with the letters "OSS" — representing Operation Safe Streets, the name of the larger unit that the Gang Enforcement Team is part of. A bony hand clasps a revolver. Investigators suspect that smoke is tattooed over the gun's barrel after a member is involved in a shooting.
To the left of the skull are two playing cards — an ace and an eight — apparently an allusion to the "dead man's" poker hand, sources said.
One source compared the notion of modifying the tattoo after a shooting to a celebratory "high five."
Celebrating shootings and sporting matching tattoos were hallmarks of anti-gang officers in the LAPD's troubled Rampart Division in the late 1990s.
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Last year, the department fired a group of deputies who all worked on the third, or "3000," floor of Men's Central Jail after the group fought two fellow deputies at an employee Christmas party and allegedly punched a female deputy in the face.
Sheriff's officials later said the men had formed an aggressive "3000" clique that used gang-like three-finger hand signs. A former top jail commander told The Times that jailers would "earn their ink" by breaking inmates' bones.
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Other cliques — with names like Grim Reapers, Little Devils, Regulators and Vikings — have been accused of breeding a gang-like mentality in which deputies falsify police reports, perjure themselves and cover up misconduct. Past affiliation with such groups reaches the highest levels of the department.
Baca acknowledged last year that his second-in-command, Paul Tanaka, has a Vikings tattoo. Tanaka has said the Vikings was a nickname for deputies assigned to the Lynwood station and did not represent anything sinister.
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