At the end of September this year, a group of hackers announced that they had broken into the servers of the militant anti-government organization known as the Oath Keepers. After its break-in, the hackers passed the stacks of information they had acquired to a non-profit journalism collective known as the Distributed Denial of Secrets – which, in turn, created the roughly five gigabytes of e-mails, chat logs, lists of members, donors and aspirants, and other related files, available to all journalists who wanted them.

Since then, snippets of information found hidden in the hack’s gigantic piles of data have surfaced in news stories as journalists continue to engage in the daunting task of parsing the mounds of data relating to those associated with the far-right, heavily armed, conspiratorial (whose 18 members were indicted in a single federal indictment on counts including conspiracy and aiding and abetting the obstruction of Congress, all to make their involvement in the January 6 attack on the US capital).

Screenshot of Federal Court documents, showing a group of oath keepers reported outside the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The trove of hacked information happens to include, among other things, a file that provides the names and personal information of nearly 40,000 Oath Keeper members.

When USA Today searched the list of 40,000 names, they found more than 200 people who identified themselves as active or retired law enforcement officers when they signed up. USA Today was also able to confirm that at least 21 of the 200 still appear to be serving in police departments across the country.

Meanwhile, in California, one of the first stories linked to information obtained through the hack was news that in 2014 Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco had paid for a one-year Oath membership. Keepers – which describes itself as a “non-partisan association of current and former military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath that all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution from all enemies, strangers and national “.”

(For more on Sheriff Bianco and the Oath Keepers, read this story by LAist’s Frank Stoltze.)

Today, since Friday, NPR and WNYC/Gothamist released some of their own in-depth investigative stories based on what their joint team of reporters uncovered when they compared the names on the roster of members of the group to lists of law enforcement officers working in the departments. in the nation’s three largest cities, namely members of the Chicago Police Department, New York Police Department, and “Los Angeles Area Departments.”

NPR and WNYC/Gothamist reporters learned that the Chicago PD had the most serving officer names that appeared to match those on the leaked list, with 13 matches. The NYPD had two active members of the department whose names matched.

The LAPD had no games.

When it comes to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, however, NPR reporters found at least three current employees whose information appeared to match the names on the list of oath keepers.

Although NPR was unable to persuade any of these three to speak on the matter, reporters noted that one of the three LASD members “posted a link to the Oath Keepers website on his public Twitter account.

When asked to comment on the new information, Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman told NPR’s Tom Dreisbach that “the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has extremist organizations within its ranks.”

Dreisbach also reached out to Priscilla Ocen, chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Civil Oversight Commission, who supported Huntsman’s conclusion.

“We have a problem with white supremacy in the LA County Sheriff’s Department,” Ocen said, adding that the Los Angeles County Sheriff “looked away.”

On Monday night, as more attention began to focus on this issue, Eric Strong, a lieutenant with the LA Sheriff’s Department, who also threw his hat in the ring to run against Sheriff Villanueva in 2022, had this to say via Twitter.

“NPR reports that 3 members of the ‘Oath Keepers’, a far-right extremist group, are working for LASD,” Strong wrote. “That’s 3 too many. If you align yourself with individuals and organizations that prey on marginalized groups, you can’t be trusted to enforce the law in the same way.”

Strong, who is positioning himself as a reform candidate, also detailed what he would do to solve LASD’s half-century problem with deputy gangs, a topic that IG Max Huntsman and COC President , Priscilla Ocen, referred to as relevant. responding to the news that the nation’s largest sheriff’s department appears to have several oath keepers on its roster of sworn employees.

More on this and related issues soon!

So stay tuned.


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