To end a federal inquiry into deputies’ alleged religious and racial discrimination, Harris County, Tx., Sheriff Adrian Garcia has agreed to hire an outside expert to monitor his department’s internal affairs division, reports the Houston Chronicle. The U.S. Justice Department investigation was spurred by the discovery of emails from sheriff’s commanders before Garcia took office that disparaged religious, racial, and ethnic groups. The probe also was prompted by the treatment of members of a Sikh family detained after calling deputies to their home to investigate a burglary.
The agreement requires the department to hire an internal affairs expert to review use of force and internal affairs procedures, as well as develop “diversity and cross-cultural awareness” training for new cadets and existing deputies. The agreement calls for a written report after an eight-month review, which will serve as an outline to improve the handling of complaints against deputies from the public, how internal investigations are conducted and the training of officers who do them. The sheriff will invite Sikh and Muslim religious leaders to participate in the department’s Faith Leaders meeting, and create a Citizen Advisory Council to meet every two months to foster communications with the public.