LA Sheriff Takes Fire Over Aircraft Use
A county audit has found that managers at the Los Angeles county Sheriff's Department dispatched aircraft for personal reasons, costing the county tens of thousands of dollars, the LA Times reported, Thursday. The county audit was prompted in part by allegations that misuse of county aircraft was impacting response to emergency calls. The audit found no support for that claim, but did find improper use that included a trip to Connecticut in a county aircraft that cost the county $35,000. According to the audit, a commercial flight could have performed the same task faster and for significantly less money. Another flight involved carrying the daughter of a commander to his retirement party. Still, a department spokesperson called the audit an "exoneration."
According to department spokesman Steve Whitmore, the audit's findings exonerated the air support division because the most serious allegations facing the department were not supported by the audit's findings. Specifically, no evidence was found that the activities delayed emergency response or that misuse of aircraft was involved in time sheet manipulation or any attempts to collect additional overtime pay. Whitmore said that the sheriff does not accept "questionable uses" of public resources and that the department "is prepared to correct anything that needs correcting." The allegations were initially made public in March, at which time the LA Times says the office's captain responded by noting that one of the accusers had himself previously flown two relatives on a department helicopter, picking them up from northern Los Angeles County and flying them to LAX.