Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has announced his retirement. The 71-year-old has been with the department for 48 years. Baca said there were several factors in his decision. However, recent controversy likely played a role.
In recent years, the sheriff's department faced accusations of racial discrimination, questionable hiring practices, and inmate abuse. The accusations led to the indictment of 18 current and former deputies.
During his announcement, Baca focused on achievements made during his four terms as sheriff. He said the department provided "exemplary service" to the community and helped reduce crime. Although he is proud of his accomplishments, the Los Angeles County Sheriff said it is time to move on.
As reported by ABC News, Baca said his reasons for stepping down are "personal and private." However, he admits recent controversies have led to a "negative perception" of the department as a whole.
Although he was reluctant to discuss details, Baca admitted the investigation into department misconduct is ongoing. The sheriff refused to answer questions about his own involvement in the controversy. He said he is "not afraid of reality... only afraid of people who don't tell the truth."
Despite his reluctance to discuss the investigation, Baca admitted that more indictments are a possibility.
In October, a federal jury ruled that the sheriff was personally liable for inmate abuse at the Men's Central Jail. He was ordered to pay $100,000 for his negligence in the situation.
Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers said the sheriff "was insulated by some of his upper management," and he simply "relied on the wrong people."
As the Los Angeles County Sheriff is stepping down before the end of his term, a five-member team will choose an interim sheriff to serve prior to the regular election.
ABC 7 reports possible candidates for the position include Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers, former undersheriff Paul Tanaka, retired sheriff's commander Bob Olmsted, former sheriff's lieutenant Patrick Gomez, Long Island Police Chief Jim McDonnell, and Assistant Sheriff Jim Hellmold.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff will retire at the end of this month.
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