July 9, 2019
Los Angeles, CA – Today the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion to establish the Family Assistance Program that will support families following an in-custody death or fatal use of force. This motion is based upon work done by the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission.
“We were all moved by the stories and testimonies of members of our communities who have lost loved ones,” said Brian K. Williams, Executive Director of the Civilian Oversight Commission. “The creation of the Family Assistance Program illustrates how when we listen to one another, dialogue and collectively work together, good things can happen. This is a great example of the work that the Commission is capable of.”
According to the motion, the Family Assistance Program is ‘aimed at improving compassionate communication with and providing trauma-informed support to families who lose a loved one through a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s deputy’s fatal use of force or in-custody death.’
“These families who lose a loved one through an encounter with the Sheriff’s department or die in custody under the jurisdiction of the County go through traumatic grief,” said Patti Giggans, L.A. County Civilian Oversight Commission Chair and Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. “Our Commission spent a lot of time listening to the families and working with community advocacy groups, and we were able to identify gaps in communication and support services. We look forward to the development of the multi-disciplinary Family Assistance Program, an approach that will provide grieving families with timely information and a warm hand off to services.”
In the last three years, more than 100 people have died during incidents involving a fatal use of force by deputies in the field or while in the custody of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
“The need for the Family Assistance Program cannot be overstated,” said J.P. Harris, Civilian Oversight Commissioner. “Collaboration with other County Departments and community organizations will ultimately result in enhanced relationships between the Sheriff’s Department and communities they serve.”
The Family Assistance Program calls for a collaboration among several County Departments, identifying roles for Mental Health, Public Health, Medical Examiner-Coroner, Registrar-Recorder, Inspector General, Civilian Oversight Commission and the Chief Executive Office. Participation from the Sheriff and District Attorney is also requested.