Frequently Asked Questions
- What training do Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies receive on racial bias, discrimination and harassment? Deputies receive 30 hours of mandated training during the seven-month basic academy regarding cultural diversity and discrimination. Throughout their careers, deputies receive several updated mandatory courses on topics such as Bias Based Policing, Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, Developing Cultural Competency and Inclusion, and they are required to review the department policies on conduct and ethics, use of force, critical incidents, vehicle pursuits, bias-based policing, hate crimes, and discriminatory harassment every year.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies trained to de-escalate situations by using peaceful conflict resolution strategies? Yes. This training begins during the academy, and continues with updated mandatory training that takes place throughout deputies’ careers. De-escalation techniques are also emphasized during arrest and control training and force options training, which take place at least every two years for all deputies. In addition, more than 92% of our patrol deputies are trained in Crisis Intervention, which places a strong emphasis on de-escalation techniques.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies allowed to use the carotid control hold? No. Until recently, the carotid control hold was allowed as an effective method for restraining violent or combative individuals. Our policy has changed in line with the decision by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to no longer certify the carotid hold to be part of the training of peace officers in California.
- Is hog-tying allowed? No, deputies are not allowed to hog tie people, and they are taught how to prevent positional asphyxia. They are not allowed to transport prisoners in a prone position.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies required to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force? Yes. They have a duty to protect all people and prevent unlawful conduct by anyone, including their subordinates, peers and supervisors in law enforcement.
- Will officers be reprimanded if they fail to intervene? Yes. Failure to intervene could result in serious discipline, up to and including termination.
300.2.1 DUTY TO INTERCEDE
Any deputy observing another deputy using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. A deputy who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies forbidden from shooting at moving vehicles? No. Shooting at moving vehicles is sometimes ineffective, and is discouraged in our policy. However, there are situations where it may be appropriate to do so. For example: if a person is driving a vehicle and shooting from the moving vehicle at a person or people. Another example is when someone uses a vehicle as a weapon to run down a person or drive into a crowd of people (several examples of known terrorist acts). A deputy may be in a position to use lethal force to end those encounters.
- Is there a clear policy on use of force? Yes. It can be found here:
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies required to exhaust every other possible option before using force? No. Some situations require immediate action, such as being confronted by someone with a gun or other deadly weapon. In such a situation, a deputy may not have time to utilize other options before using lethal force.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies required to give a verbal warning to people before drawing their weapon or using force? No. Deputies should give warnings whenever possible, but not every situation allows time for warnings to be given or for dialogue to take place. Sometimes deputies are faced with situations that require an immediate response with less lethal or lethal force. For example, someone immediately points a gun at a deputy or runs at them with a knife or other deadly weapon. There may not be time to give a warning before using force.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies required to write a report each time they use force? Yes. Every use of force requires thorough documentation. Also, every use of force must be reviewed by a supervisor to ensure compliance with the law and agency policies. That review involves reading all reports related to the incident and reviewing all body-worn camera footage. All use of force reviews are forwarded to the area captain for further scrutiny. The sheriff’s office also has a use of force committee comprised of experts in tactics and law enforcement training that meets quarterly to review incidents involving use of force to evaluate current practices, training, tactics, and proper documentation. This means that the way we train and the way we handle situations in the field are constantly under review, and changes are made to improve the way we interact with the public to ensure the safety of deputies and the people they contact.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies thoroughly vetted to ensure that they do not have a history of abuse, racism, xenophobia, homophobia / transphobia, or discrimination? Yes. We go to great lengths to screen applicants, who must go through a lengthy background investigation and testing before being considered for appointment to the academy to begin their training. The testing process not only includes a written and physical agility test, but also includes an extensive background process including polygraph, psychological and medical exams. The background assesses a number of dimensions such as moral character, handling stress and adversity, work habits, interactions with others, in addition to the candidate’s intellect. As a result, only 1% of those who apply ultimately become sheriff’s deputies. We also conduct performance appraisals on all of our employees annually.
- Are Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies trained to perform and seek necessary medical attention after using force? Yes. Deputies are trained to perform first aid and CPR. Fire and EMS personnel are also summoned to provide care for people who are injured when force is used by deputies.
- What is the Ventura County Sheriff’s complaint procedure? Complaints can be made in person, via telephone, or by printing and mailing a complaint form, which can be found here:
- How does The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office investigate use of force or other complaints?
Complaints are reviewed by the Internal Affairs Captain and Professional Standards Commander and then assigned to a sergeant for investigation. The sergeant will re-interview the person making the complaint if needed, analyze and review any surveillance, cellphone, body worn camera or relevant video and written reports. The sergeant will attempt to identify and interview witnesses, review the policy that was violated, examine the named employee’s training file and canvass the area where the complaint event occurred if needed. Once the facts and pertinent evidence are gathered, the named employee is interviewed.
- How long does it take for a complaint to be investigated?
Complaint investigations are generally completed within one year of receiving a complaint or when a supervisor learns of the complaint. If a named employee is off for medical leave or there is a criminal investigation into the same allegation; the time to complete the complaint investigation is suspended until the employee returns to work or the criminal case is completed.
- How are the findings of a complaint investigation reviewed?
Complaint investigation findings are reviewed by the Internal Affairs Captain and Professional Standards Commander. Complaint cases resulting in discipline are also reviewed by an Assistant Sheriff and County Counsel. Discipline ranges for a written reprimand, suspension for one to 14 days without pay, removal from a specialized assignment, demotion, and termination.
- Who investigates complaints? Complaints against our personnel are investigated by our Professional Standards Bureau. If a complaint involves a criminal allegation, it is investigated jointly by our Major Crimes Bureau and our Professional Standards Bureau.
- Is there an early intervention system enforced to correct officers who use excessive force? Yes, through updated training, evaluation, and supervision. We also have a system to track complaints against deputies to determine if a pattern is developing in their behavior.
- Are citizens allowed to know the outcome of these investigations? Yes. We notify the person who complained and all involved parties of the outcome of the investigation. We also release to the public our yearly statistics of the number, type, and outcome of complaints throughout the agency. This information is also shared with the Department of Justice.
- Do Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies use body worn cameras? Yes, all patrol deputies and supervisors use body worn cameras.
- Do deputies have to turn on their body worn cameras (BWC) every time they contact a person?
Unless it is unsafe or impractical to do so, or mechanical issues that impede the use of the device are present, deputies shall make every reasonable effort to activate their BWC prior to making contact in any of the following incidents: 1. During any law enforcement related contact or activity where there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or a violation of law and investigative or enforcement action may be taken. 2. Deputies may activate the BWC before or during any other incident at their discretion, and shall have the latitude to terminate the recording when there is no likelihood of force being used or anything else of evidentiary value occurring.
- Does a deputy sheriff have to turn off his/her body worn camera if I tell him I don’t want to be recorded? No.
- Does the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office use in-car video systems? No.
The manner of policing you see today has changed and improved significantly over the years, due to a variety of factors, including updates to legislation, training, court decisions, new technology, and best practices. All law enforcement agencies in the state of California are required to provide comprehensive training to their officers that is consistent with the law and with the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
The following chart shows the number of incidents where force is used in relation to the number of contacts our deputies have in a given year:
|Ventura County Sheriff’s Office||Comparison of Contacts and Use of Force|
|Date: 01/01/2015- 05/31/2020||2015||2016||2017||2018||2019||01/01/2020-05/31/2020||TOTAL|
|Use of Force Incidents *||636||557||493||638||654||252||3230|
|VCSO Contacts **||191678||194235||200172||201766||202394||74387||1064632|
|Percentage of Use of Force Per Contacts||0.3%||0.3%||0.2%||0.3%||0.3%||0.3%||0.3%|
|Gov’t Code 12525.2 Mandate (Serious Bodily Injury to Officer or Civilian) ***||–||–||1||3||2||0||6|