LA County Sheriff Lee Baca Announces Retirement Plans

LA County Sheriff Lee Baca Announces Retirement Plans

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Los Angeles, CA -

FOX 11 News has learned that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca will retire on Tuesday. Our Christine Devine spoke with Baca briefly on Tuesday morning confirming his intentions to retire. Sources also say he informed his senior staff personally of the decision.

The 71-year-old Baca has served as Sheriff for the past 16 years and, despite continued scandal and criticism of his department, has held firm in his resolve to remain in the job and to seek re-election.

Baca's decision comes one month after 18 current and former sheriff's deputies were indicted by the federal government on corruption charges. Speaking at the time, Baca objected to the notion that this was an institutionalized problem, noting the changes he's instituted in the jails, including jail-based education programs. Baca said the actions of the deputies and other higher-ups charged shouldn't reflect on the entire department, "99.9% of whom do their jobs well". 

We'll have more on the story as it develops.

From Phil Shuman:

What's his legacy ? 

Leroy David Baca was born and grew up in East LA, went to college, here, joined the Sheriff's Dept way back in 1965, called it a ''dream come true''.  He's spent the past 15 years plus as head of the Dept, and we all know it's the largest in the country with almost 20, 000 people. 

Those who love the Sheriff call him an innovative leader, compassionate, smart, a visionary. http://sheriff.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/lasd   He has a doctorate in Public Administration. Those who've called for him to resign say he's out of touch, aloof, tone deaf, maybe even naive. He's been held personally responsible for jail abuse by a Superior Court judge in a case that received little attention but set quite a precedent. So, who won with Baca's decision to resign? Tough to say.  It's clear, from listening to the Sheriff himself, that he wanted to go out on ''his terms'', that his decision was made in the ''best interests '' of the men and women of his department.  He insists that the recent indictments of 18 deputies and senior personnel doesn't reflect on the Department as a whole, which is true in one sense but in another sense it's just the latest development in years of scandal and abuse inside, yes, the largest jail system in the country.

 Not an easy job... and to his credit, rather than try to muscle his way through what would no doubt be a campaign that focused on the negative, he's stepping aside.  I don't believe we've heard the last of Lee Baca.  He's a young 71, with strong ties to a diverse LA County community, so the next chapter in his life will probably be an interesting one.  

 



 

(FOX 11 / CNS) Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is expected to announce today that he has decided to leave the beleaguered sheriff's department rather than fight for a fifth term.

A statement from the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau this morning said the sheriff would hold a news conference at the Sherman Block Sheriff's Headquarters Building in Monterey Park at 10 a.m. The statement did not cite a reason but it was issued following numerous news reports that Baca had decided to move on.

Baca, feeling his departure will eliminate distractions taking attention from the department's good work, plans to leave by month's end, media outlets reported. The 71-year-old Baca told top officials in county government late Monday that he believes stepping down will help the department recover after several years of tumult and criticism, sources familiar with the conversations told the Los Angeles Times.

Baca was first elected in 1998 and was facing a tough re-election campaign this year for his fifth term, including a challenge from one of his former deputies. With 18 current and former deputies facing federal criminal charges for mistreating jail inmates, Baca had announced Monday -- apparently before he decided to leave -- that he would support a citizens' commission to oversee department operations.

He described the citizens' commission as "consistent with my view on strengthening transparency and accountability.''

In December, the Los Angeles Times reported that the department hired dozens of officers in 2010 despite evidence of significant misconduct found during their background checks.

Federal prosecutors filed charges against current and former deputies in December, accusing them of beating jail inmates and visitors and trying to intimidate an FBI agent.

The charges related to a long-standing corruption investigation of the jail system, which is administered by the sheriff's department. The department is also facing civil lawsuits relating to the actions of some of the deputies charged with misconduct.

Additionally, the U.S. Justice Department last year accused sheriff's deputies of engaging in widespread unlawful searches of homes, improper detentions and unreasonable force as Antelope Valley authorities conducted an effort to discriminate against African Americans who received low-income subsidized housing.

At the local level, the sheriff's department was under criticism by a blue-ribbon commission appointed by the Board of Supervisors to examine allegations of jail abuses and was facing the prospect of official oversight, with the board last month approving the appointment of the county's first Inspector-General.

Max Huntsman, a former deputy supervisor of the public integrity division of the Los Angeles District Attorney's office started his new position with the county Jan. 2. Huntsman had previously prosecuted public corruption cases in Los Angeles, as well as investigating law enforcement officers and police use-or-forces cases.

Baca had given no previous indication of his intention to stand down in the face of negative publicity. "My job right now is to explain my side of the story,'' Baca said in an interview on television news last month.

"Fixing things is why I bother,'' he said, when asked why he wanted to stay in the job. "Leaders don't ever not have problems and controversies.'' Baca was facing at least four declared challengers in a two-stage re-election this year, with a primary election on June 3, and a potential general election on Nov. 4.

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