Two Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies who were allegedly assaulted by other deputies at a holiday party last year have filed a lawsuit, claiming the department encourages lawlessness and violence among its jail employees.

About half a dozen deputies allegedly assaulted two others and punched a female deputy who tried to intervene in the face during a holiday gathering at a Montebello banquet hall in December.

The deputies who were described as the aggressors worked on the third floor of Men's Central Jail, where they were believed to have formed an aggressive clique known to flash gang-like hand signs.

Deputies at sheriff substations typically create mascots such as the Devils or Vikings. Logos are printed on T-shirts and other items. Usually the rivalries are harmless fun, however these jail deputies have begun to emulate the inmates they supervise, says POLICE gang expert Richard Valdemar.

"The department is recruiting too many gang-like kids," says Valdemar, a retired LASD sergeant and gang investigator. "They tend to emulate the people they're supervising in the jail."

The deputies have been known to tattoo the back of their necks with "3000," a reference to the jail's third floor. Deputies who work on the second floor tattoo their necks with "2000."

By Paul Clinton

Source: Los Angeles Times

Related: L.A. County Sheriff Deputies Suspended After Holiday Brawl