Anatomy of the Jails Commission Jail LA County Board of Supervisors LA County Jail LASD Sheriff Lee Baca

ANATOMY OF A JAILS COMMISSION: Part 4 – The Sheriff & his Undersheriff Finally Talk

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

 THE SHERIFF & HIS UNDERSHERIFF TESTIFY

One week ago, on Friday, July 27, when Sheriff Lee Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka came before the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence, the anticipation among those who had been following the hearings ran uncommonly high.

At most other commission meetings only a rotating group of hyper-interested parties were present, people like Peter Eliasberg, the legal director of the So Cal ACLU, a lawyer or two from the Office of Independent Review, sometimes Merrick Bobb, Special Counsel to the Board of Supervisors, plus whatever friends and family each “witness’ brought as moral support.

Occasionally miscellaneous staffers from the Board of Supervisors’ offices would drop in for a while to listen, but they rarely stayed.

Yet when the meeting commenced this past Friday at 9 am, in addition to the usual suspects and reporters, a cheering section of approximately 200 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department employees, some in uniform, some in plain clothes, had taken their seats in the Board of Supervisor’s Hearing Room at Temple and Grand in downtown LA.

(TAP PHOTO to enlarge)

The size of the LASD contingent was so startling that one of the commission members quipped that he wondered who could possibly be left to patrol the county’s streets.

The remark was mostly a joke, but not entirely. Everyone knew that Baca and Tanaka would bring a few support staff and maybe a handful of others, like the specially appointed, five-person Commander Management Task Force, which was part of Baca’s push to reform the jails, so its members had an obvious stake in the day’s proceedings.

But the 180 or so extras were a surprise, although there had been rumors that calls had gone out to certain contingents within the department, urging them to show up.

“I hope they all came on their days off,” a Board of Supervisors aide remarked later. “I mean, I hope they weren’t there on county time.”


TANAKA TALKS

For much of the LA Press, who were also present in greater numbers that usual, especially the TV people, the main event was Sheriff Baca, who was not scheduled to testify until after the lunch break.

But for hardcore commission watchers, the most intense focus was on the undersheriff, Mr. Tanaka, who had been singled out in the testimony of six of the commission’s previous LASD witnesses, and not in a good way.

The undersheriff took the witness chair at approximately 9:44 am and proceeded to answer almost every unflattering question lobbed his direction by insisting that those who had found fault with his statements or actions were either fabricating events, deliberately misinterpreting his words for their own agendas, or out-and-out lying.

If there was no one whose veracity he could plausibly impugn to deflect an unpleasant question, Tanaka pleaded failure of memory.

It was an approach that, a couple of hours into the hearing, began to arouse visible ire in the otherwise dignified commission members.


An emblematic example of Tanaka’s blame-everybody method came early in his testimony, after the undersheriff was asked about a now well-known series of events that occurred in February of 2006 (that WLA first brought to light here and here), when Captain John Clark, the then head of Men’s Central Jail, was looking for ways to get a handle on a disturbing rise in use-of-force incidents at the county’s biggest and most troubled facility.

As a proactive measure, Clark decided to institute a job rotation system that would require deputies to be rotated through multiple posts every few months in CJ, rather than becoming calcified in just one post on one floor, the latter calcification being deemed part of the conditions that led to the excess of force in the first place.

“We had some conduct relative to use of force that we had tried normal methods to address,” Clark explained in a sworn deposition earlier this year. “And so we decided to make a change that …put the rotation in place to see if we could possibly affect future behavior [with regard to use of force].”

Even prior to Clark’s tenure at CJ, the rotation strategy had been suggested by various supervisors, plus Special Counsel Merrick Bobb, in one or more of his twice-yearly reports.

A supervisor who tended to lean in a by-the-book direction, Clark did not make the decision on his own. He went up through the appropriate chain of command and got approval from his boss, Commander Dennis Conti, who then went for an okay to his boss, Chief Sam Jones who oversaw the department’s custody division. Conti told Clark he had subsequently gone to then-Assistant Sheriff Tanaka, who too gave his sign off on the plan.

After that, Clark sent around an informational memo to everyone involved with CJ, announcing the policy and outlining what he was doing and why he was doing it. Clark made it clear that the rotation would only pertain to the deputies’ work locations in the jails, but not their shifts—as the latter would have wreaked havoc with their home lives.

A slew of deputies, most of them reportedly a part of the deputy cliques that had formed on the 2000 and 3000 floors, were not at all happy with Clark’s plan. So some of the ringleaders—O.G.’s as they were reportedly called—sent around an email to all CJs deputies urging everyone to send a letter of complaint directly to Mr. Tanaka. The organizers provided a helpful boilerplate text that could simply be copied and pasted into one’s email and sent off with little effort.

[These facts were not in dispute as the commission had copies of all this paperwork, which WitnessLA also obtained and posted earlier here.]

And so it was that Mr. Tanaka got nearly 200 identical emails. Upon receiving the flood of letters, rather than talking the matter over with Clark, or either of his two bosses, and without mentioning his intentions to anyone else in the chain of command, including Sheriff Baca, Tanaka famously called a meeting with all the deputies at Men’s Central Jail. It was meeting from which all supervisors were pointedly excluded.

Then, according to those who were present at the meeting, like some all-powerful Norse god, Tanaka metaphorically waved his magic staff over the assembled deputies, and unilaterally and publically rescinded Clark’s rotation.

He informed Clark of the cancellation of his rotation order only after it was a fait accompli. A few days later, he called a meeting with the CJ supervisors, several of whom, including Clark, Tanaka reportedly proceeded to dress down and humiliate in front of their subordinates.

At the same meeting, he reportedly announced that he was sending over to CJ three of his own handpicked lieutenants who would whip things into shape.

The commission knew all about the Clark/CJ/rotation debacle through reports and documents, but most specifically because two of their previous “witnesses,” Sergeant Dan Pollaro, Lieutenant Al Gonzalez, had been present at the supervisors’ meeting, and had each recounted their experiences with the then assistant sheriff at the meeting in harrowing detail.

For instance, Pollaro and Gonzales each told how Tanaka roared angrily at the supervisors that they should “coddle” this new generation deputies, even making a rock-a-bye baby motion with his arms.

Bert Deixler, one of the commission’s attorney/investigators, was the person doing the initial questioning of Tanaka at the hearing. In his non-commission life, Deixler is a high profile civil litigator who has also won an impressive string of pro-bono cases, taking at least one successfully to the US Supreme Court. In other words he knew his way around an cross examination. With Tanaka, he was polite enough, but pulled no punches. After grilling the undersheriff about the events that led up to the back-to-back meetings, he asked specifically about the anecdote. “Isn’t it true that you said that this new generation of deputies had to be “coddled.”

Tanaka was unequivocal “No absolutely not,” he said.

Then, what about the fact, Deixler asked, that other witnesses who were in the meeting described that he had even made a cradling motion while he talked about “coddling.”

“You can bring them here, you can bring me here and put us on a lie box. I would never, ever have suggested indirectly, or stated directly, that it’s the job of a supervisor to coddle a deputy.”

As for why he slammed shut the rotation plan, Tanaka was equally dismissive. “It’s my recollection that [Captain Clark] was dealing with a handful of problem deputies. That’s all. When you have a handful of problem deputies you don’t mass punish hundreds of deputies.”

Plus, Tanaka said, Clark wanted to the deputies to rotate shifts—not just the floors they worked—which made it impossible to plan their lives. “That to me that was unconscionable.”

Of course, all of what Tanaka said about the reasons for the rotation, or the rotation policy itself, was easily disproved as inaccurate—first by the widely distributed and detailed memo announcing the rotation, and also by everyone who had spoken publically on the topic, and finally by Clark himself in his account in a sworn deposition. Yet none of this seemed to dent the undersheriff’s unassailable confidence that he was in the right and everyone else was wrong.

“Based on my verbal conversation that I had with captain Clark, I made the right decision,” he said of his squelching of the rotation, adding, “Now if this had been more clearly communicated to me, or I had seen [the Clark] memorandum, you’re right, it might have changed my decision about not letting him proceed with the rotation plan.”

The obvious question would seem to be: why in the world would Mr. Tanaka—who was at the time the highest ranking department executive overseeing the jails—unilaterally reverse a policy decision that affected all those working in and around Men’s Central Jail, without ever bothering to learn what the policy actually entailed, or to read any of the simplest paperwork on the policy?

Several times in the course of the hearing, Tanaka was asked a version of that question and, while on the second go-round in response to one of the commissioners, he admitted that he might have done things better, he mostly continued to place the responsibility for the “misunderstanding’ directly, if illogically, on Clark’s shoulders.

It was this same I’m-right-and-everybody-else-is-lying stance that Tanaka would employ throughout much of the 3 ½ hours of his testimony.


FORCE? WHAT FORCE?

One of the undersheriff’s most perplexing denials was his insistence that he was not ever made aware of problems of excessive force in the LA County Jails until federal investigations and a flood of negative press attention brought the matter front and center in the spring and fall of 2011.

“We were caught unawares,” he said.

At one point, he did admit to hearing about an isolated force problem that seemed to be an artifact of the function of “pill call,” which was the moment during the day when inmates were called out to get their medication. Tanaka said he simply rectified the issue by reverting to an earlier system in which nurses brought the medication around to the individual cells. Presto. Problem solved.

Other than the pill call matter, he said, he’d heard nothing. Given a pile of civil lawsuits, alarming ACLU reports that hit the news at least once a year, and cyclical cautionary reports from Merrick Bobb, and Mike Gennaco’s Office of Independent Review, this was hard to understand. Though a Public Records Act request, even WitnessLA was able to acquire comparative numbers on force incidents that clearly indicated an escalating pattern of force in CJ.

So why didn’t Paul Tanaka know? Why didn’t the sheriff know?

Tanaka specifically denied having seen any of the four reports about widespread uses of force in CJ, that were prepared at the request of Commander Bob Olmsted in 2008 and 2009, reports that all of the commissioners had by now received and read. There was one by a Lt. Mark McCorkle, two reports by another CJ supervisor, Lt. Steven Smith, and a fourth report by Captain Gregory Johnson.

Each of the four reports taken alone contained accounts that should have raised considerable alarm in any responsible supervisor. Together they indicated a crisis.

At least they certainly did to Olmsted, who had previously testified that he gave the memos to his boss, Chief Burns, and then to his boss’s boss, Assistant Chief Marvin Cavanaugh. Olmsted said he finally presented the same reports to Paul Tanaka in a face-face-meeting that Cavanaugh arranged.

But Tanaka waved away the notion that he’d been given anything of the kind.

“It was never brought to my attention. Not a single [supervisor] ever raised it as a problem to the level that I needed to get involved. That was never, ever bought up,” Tanaka said, his expression nettled, his voice by then very sharp.

Deixler: “Do you know that Commander Olmsted says he brought the McCorkle, Johnson and the Smith memos to you, long ago, and you declined to look at them?” [Backstory on Olmsted here.]

Tanaka: “You’re asking me if that occurred? The answer is NO.”

Deixler: “You’re certain that Commander Olmsted never brought to you the McCorkle, Johnson and Smith memos?”

Tanaka: “One hundred percent. It never occurred.”

Tanaka further claimed that when Olmsted met with him, that it was only to resolve a personality conflict between himself and CJ’s then captain, Dan Cruz. Force was never mentioned, Tanaka said. Olmsted’s account was “a fabrication.”

Finally, much later in the morning, after Tanaka had accused still another group of department members of misrepresenting his words and actions, in this case in a meeting with deputies during a 2007 briefing at the department’s Century Station, Deixler paused and stared at the undersheriff, then asked deadpan, “Is there widespread dishonesty in the sheriff’s department?”

Tanaka snapped back, “There’s widespread personal agendas.”


THE COMMISSIONERS STEP UP

Once Deixler finished with his own list of queries, the seven commission members had a chance to ask their own questions.

They asked about such issues as pay-to-play promotions, Tanaka’s criticism of the Internal Affairs, and whether he had a general disregard for the chain of command. The undersheriff predictably denied it all, although his tone was less dismissive with the commissioners whom he seemed to view as having a different kind of gravitas.

Judge Carlos Moreno who, at past meetings, had not been a particularly aggressive questioner now seemed quietly incensed by the undersheriff’s seeming unwillingness to express either alarm or personal responsibility for the hundreds of inmate complaints and force reports that had been discovered languishing in dusty stacks and in desk drawers for sometimes several years.

“I don’t know if you know,” Moreno said carefully, “but a fraud has been committed on the state courts with regard to Pitchess discovery. I’ve conducted scores of reviews with Pitchess discoveries, and we thought these [Sheriff’s Department] files were accurate…..” Now it turns out that they were not, he said, due to the languishing of reports unexamined in boxes and in drawers. Moreno wanted to know what Tanaka thought about all this:

Moreno: “Do you have any comment on what I consider frauds committed on the court?”

Tanaka: Well, it’s very disturbing.

Moreno is not placated. “It’s also unconstitutional—don’t you think?—under Brady. (By Brady he meant the Supreme Court decision of Brady v. Maryland.)

When he finished with violations of the U.S. Constitution, Moreno also grilled Tanaka about the deputy cliques….

Moreno “I had trials in the 80s or 90’s in a Compton court, many of which had to do with an organization called the Vikings,” he said. “Are you familiar with the Vikings in any way?

Tanaka: “Yes, I have some familiarity with the Vikings. I don’t consider them an organization.”

Moreno: “Well, were they a sports team?”

For a moment it seemed like Moreno might take one more step and ask the undersheriff he himself had been a member of the Vikings, and if so, did he still have his Vikings tattoo?

But the moment passed.

Soon after that, the Tanaka portion of the hearing ended. The commission broke for a 35-minute lunch, and then everyone readied themselves for Sheriff Baca.



THE SHERIFF TESTIFIES: “I’M A STEWARD OF THE PUBLIC.”

Lee Baca looked relaxed and confident as he stepped to the witness microphone wearing his blue and thin white pin-striped suit. He had the aura of an athlete who had trained, and was now ready for the game.

The essence of his message to the commission was, yes, I know there were problems, I admit they were bad, I take responsibility for not being aware of them, but I’m in charge now, and we’re making great progress. I’m on top of this.

In addition to his verbal presentation, he provided both commission and press with a 55-page written report.

Somewhere in his monologue, Baca even said he was working on a strategy to handle the campaign contribution issue (that WitnessLA first reported), a topic that subsequently alarmed the Board of Supervisors, and now the commissioners. And he had other planned reforms in the works, he said.

The sheriff talked repeatedly about his favorite topic, education-based incarceration, his model program in the jails. He also waxed eloquent about some of his other theories about violence and violence prevention. Much of this was the sort of touchy-feely-sounding stuff that drives lots of the rank and file crazy. If one listened closely, however, one found that most of the sheriff’s progressive concepts were research-based and smart. Yet, they were tangential at best to the hoary departmental problems, and cultural toxicities, that brought everyone to the hearing room.

In addition to his progressive lawman self, Baca also brought out his political trench fighter side, as several times during the the exchange with the commission, the sheriff played his hole card, the fact that he is a popular elected official.

“I’m a steward of the public..’’ he said.

“I trust the voters of Los Angeles County, and the voters of Los Angeles county trust me,” he said at another juncture.

The biggest laughline of the day came when the commission’s lead counsel, Richard Drooyan, asked the sheriff: “How do we hold you accountable?”

“Don’t elect me,” replied Baca.

And that wasn’t the only line in the sand he drew; the sheriff also made it extremely clear he that had no intention of getting rid of his second in command.

“Paul Tanaka is uniquely suited to be the undersheriff,” he said after he was questioned about some of the undersheriff’s possible missteps. “When you go through two recessions, you need a CPA.” In one fiscal year, Baca said, he was 25 million over budget. “I told the Board of Supervisors I’d pay them back. And I did! I’m the only department who paid them back”—the implication being that Tanaka was the budget balancing savior, without whom the department, and Baca, would have been fiscally underwater. And then later, in case anyone’s missed the point: “You’re not going to tell me how to discipline my command staff,” he said.

But Baca also made it clear that he was the boss of the department, not anyone else. There was no shadow sheriff. He was calling the shots. He had taken over the jails, and Internal Affairs, and ICIB.

I’m the sheriff,” he said with a cheerful growl, “and everybody else is a deputy sheriff.”


When he finished speaking and all the commissioners thanked him, Baca headed out the door and down the front steps with his Commanders’ Management Task Force, his mood one of ebullience. “You teed the ball up for me,” he said to the commanders, “but then I swung and hit it hard. You teed it up, and I hit it.” He grabbed one commander’s shoulder. “It made me feel like a teenager again.”

(I can’t say if those words of the sheriff’s are exact. I had stopped taking notes by then. But they are very close.)

But before he disappeared into his waiting car, there was one other thing that some of us observing the sheriff and his entourage noticed. The crowd of 200 that had been present in the hearing room for the undersheriff’s testimony had dwindled by a third or possibly a half of the original number. It had happened sometime during lunch, just before was time for Sheriff Baca to walk to the microphone.

(I later attempted a count of bodies in the before and after photos I happened to snap, and my best estimate is that just under half of the LASD audience vanished before Baca walked to the mic. But that’s still a guess.)

Maybe those department members who left simply had to go back on shift. Or maybe they were trying to beat Friday the traffic. Or maybe their collective exit meant nothing at all.

But the change was curious. And one could not help but wonder if the sheriff in his happy post-testimony state noticed the difference. And, if so, what he made of it.

(TAP PHOTO to enlarge)

34 Comments

  • As I read the comments and hear the testimony it pains mean to feel that I am “almost” embarrassed to be a member of this organization, but then I stop and remember that it isn’t the organization, it’s the current leaders.

    There was a time when I too admired and looked up to Mr. Tanaka, that was when he was promoting good solid police work and preaching that he would not tolerate laziness. In other words you had to “earn your keep.”

    The problem that surfaced was that the “majority” of your “hard working” Deputies are very confident and strong willed (you have to be to survive on the streets) and that type of personality doesn’t play well to Mr. Tanaka’s management style (I can’t even imagine what would happen if he told me or any of the hard workers I know to “sit down and shut up”). So when the hard-core street cops refused to play he aligned himself with what “use to be” good people who were willing to play with him. Now those “once upon a time good people” are indebted to him for their current pay checks.

    Wake up people! You can tell by his testimony that he has two priorities, himself and to one day be Sheriff of LA County.

  • We can’t say whether the voters of Los Angeles County trust Sheriff Lee Baca – he was reelected by default, no one filed to challenge Baca for the Office of Sheriff on the 2010 primary ballot.

    Since Sheriff Baca likes to pay back money to the County, has he reimbursed the taxpayers yet for the nearly $1 million paid out to settle the job harassment lawsuit brought by the last LASD employee to challenge incumbent Lee Baca for election?

    Isn’t Sheriff Baca concerned that the Board of Supervisors voted taxpayer money to settle this suit shortly after the filing deadline passed to run against him in 2010?

    Why wasn’t Steve Whitmore pleading for the Board of Supervisors to allow the lawsuit to proceed to trial, so the public could finally have a chance to hear “the whole story”?

    The way this lawsuit was handled leaves the impression that the plaintiff’s cause of action had substantial merit.

    So here is the question for Sheriff Baca,

    Should the voters of Los Angeles County trust that any member of your department who seeks election to your office will be systematically and illegaly persecuted and that you will count on them (the voters of Los Angeles County) to pay the final bill for the damages?

  • Let’s kick part 4 off with a little game of “name that cigar club smoker” heck let’s even throw in the pay- to- play folk…..who do you see in the picture???

  • So much corruption. So many lies. Graft, torture, pay to play and it never stops. Yet again today two detectives try to frame a man for something he didn’t do. And whala! The taxpayers are out 450k. That doesn’t include money for attorneys. Where is the AG of California? The AG for the US? Hell, can anyone even tell us where Cooley is? If Tanaka had any sense of integrity he would retire and tell the Feds what he knows and turn his life around. But, that would be similar to Osama Bin Laden becoming a Christian! Although dead!

  • The best testimony was today. Dr Schwartz
    A renowned national expert on force and jails
    Was hired by Baca last fall as a consultant
    To assess the jails. He stated he quit after
    Being stonewalled by Commander Task Force
    He ripped our Department Command structure
    And how no brass carries out Sheriff’s orders

    When asked about Tanakas not being told, he
    stated it was Tanakas job to ask. He also
    basically called Tanaka a liar. He was visibly
    perplexed by our command staff.

    This was powerful testimony as he has no dog
    In the fight. The Commission was all ears. As
    For the Kool-Aide drinkers who think this will
    Blow over, I will bet on Corona to beat Tanaka
    In handball and dominoes. Tanak will probably
    edge him out in ping pong.

  • Paul Tanaka is guilty!!!! Guilty of caring about the deputy sheriffs’ he’s worked with in the past and those who continue to serve everyday. Thanks Mr. Tanaka for never forgetting where you came from. The political smearing is intense with those who never took responsibility, but you will prevail! Good to see the Sheriff stands by you, as he should. Interesting to see that those who really should have handled the problems (at their rank), never did and now lay blame after retiring. If a Commander can’t handle the issues, he should have turned in his star and had someone else handle it (maybe a good Sergeant)

  • Ok first of all Dr. Told us that this was one of the best run departments he has seen. Secondly he wanted to have total control of the force policy which was already written. We asked him for input but he wanted the force curriculum to be his and his alone. He is also not an expert by any stretch. The departments he helped have less than 400 officers and there were only two. His plan included how to shoot helicopters down when entering a prison yard and thAt deputies had to write a memo every time they pulled there guns. He also mentioned that we use ar-15s in custody. Very nice man but if you read his plan you would have laughed.

  • WOW! Just logged on and saw these very biased articles on the LASD and it’s management. What happened to press articles that are impartial?

    Respectfully, it’s clear that this blog has an agenda. We hope the blog administrators could look beyond the politics and focus on making jail reform a reality. It appears that the current LASD management team is truly trying to do what’s right. We support them and hope for a productive future in the LASD.

  • “He is also not an expert by any stretch.”

    “Very nice man but if you read his plan you would have laughed”

    So Baca hired a non-expert who’s plan was a joke as a consultant?
    WTF for?
    What a waste of money that was. I guess we can chalk that up as another well intentioned but expensive bad idea.

    Like the following things that have been VERY expensive bad ideas for the LASD and the taxpayers of LA County.

    LASD2 (How much money went down that rat-hole)?
    Special Reserve Program (As bas an idea as it gets)
    City Councilmen badges (See above)
    Pat Gomez ( It cost 1 mil for Waldie to flex his muscles)
    CJ ( Might as well write a blank check for these suits)
    Koi Pond at BC ( I needed to laugh after above)
    etc. etc.

    Much like the problems at CJ, he didn’t know they would be mistakes, but now he knows. So it’s all good and we should just move forward because he’s fixing it.
    Now, somebody tell me again how the deputies/supervisors are “finally being held accountable” as some of the Sheriff’s backers like to repeat ad nauseum.

    But his worst idea, his most expensive mistake, which is what all this stems from, is believing he could turn the ACLU into his friend. Giving them access to his jails above and beyond what the court order mandated. All because he thought they would get CJ closed. Remember his quote “I’m trying to out ACLU the ACLU”?
    Make no mistake about it, all of this is going on, and all of the Sheriff’s transgressions (both real and imagined) are being brought to light because of a few inmate ass kickings that the ACLU witnessed. That’s what originally piqued the interest of Ms. Fremon and why this website got involved. Go back to the archives and check it out.
    I’ll bet Paul Tanaka who IS a very smart man, now wishes he had tried to talk the Sheriff out of cozying up to the ACLU.
    Those deputies that are going to lose their career behind this bullshit, and those who might even go to prison due to this witch hunt? Looks like Tanaka didn’t exactly “have their back” when he didn’t tell the Sheriff he was high for trying to cozy up to the ACLU. Anybody could have seen this coming from the minute these ACLU people were allowed to start wandering the halls of the custody facilities unescorted by deputies. They just went around soliciting beefs and waiting to witness some inevitable AND NECESSARY ass kickings.
    It hasn’t quite worked out like the Sheriff thought it would. And it’s going to get expensive beyond belief. It’s going to cost the taxpayers untold amounts of money.

    How expensive is it going to be for Paul Tanaka? Time will tell. He would have, without a doubt, been the next Sheriff. Now? Not so sure.

  • Move on:

    Thank you for your comments and insight. The vast majority feels the same. I hope we can continue to work together in making the LASD a better department, as what’s happening now.

  • Those sworn personnel who attended the jail commission meeting are individuals who want to be promoted and therefore went to be seen and be considered loyal. By the way, in answer to the commissioner’s question, it was on county time, do you actually think they would go on their day off or use their own time? I personallly know one captain and one operations lieutenant who went on country time.

  • Move on, You’ve been drinking to much Kool-aid and it’s impairing your senses. We all want to move forward. But how about some ACCOUNTABILITY! I don’t think you can move forward without accountability. We all know very damn well that If any of us who also care dearly for our people, both deputies and sworn staff, and care where we came from, would be dealt with swiftly and harshly (and righteously so) for any ONE of the multiple offenses committed by the top command staff. WLA has exposed this. There is truly a double standard–dual set of rules on our department. If it wasn’t for WLA (who have done a fabulous job in reporting) we would not have a forum to be heard.

    ACCOUNTABILITY: What does the sheriff say? Quote, “Don’t elect me!” How pompous and tyrannical is that? I’ve heard the term megalomaniac used on this forum to describe him and his responses confirm he is. How insulting is that to the people of L.A. County and department members?? Not to mention the blue ribbon panel.

    “You’re not going to tell me how to discipline my ‘COMMAND’ staff!”….. WOW!! Is that not a cop out?? Again, double standard–two sets of rules. I know to many good people on this department who have done a great job. They’ve made mistakes–erred–fallen short. Some were mistakes of the mind and not of the heart. They were disciplined. Days off, demoted,fired.

    Tanaka is a genius when it comes to budgets. He has literally pulled a rabbit out of a hat in keeping the finances. He encourages good proactive police work. That is a refreshing attribute. But unfortunately, and at the very least, his tyranny and arrogance is going to cost this county an astronomical amount of money. The civil liability will overwhelmingly outweigh the amount he has saved the county. I presume the County CEO and every district board member is aware of this. When the law suits come in, the juries will hand out judgements like Halloween candy. Any fool can see it. I hate to say this but this department is a house of cards. How many more cards until it all comes crashing down?

    I have trouble moving forward without accountability. I have trouble with the double standard. At the risk of sounding trite, what would any good leader of a reputable business organization have done to his second in command?

    Even so, I will continue to be a good soldier. I love this job–have always been crazy about it. I continue to hold my sworn oath to protect the people of this county. Lord willing, I will continue to do so until the day I retire. Even with the added strain and ominous outlook.

    Move On, how about putting the pom-poms down and growing a pair. Take a stance for the TRUE good of the organization instead of sucking up to whomever will give you your next promotion. If Bob Olmstead and the others didn’t do their job then why weren’t they held accountable? Why didn’t they get disciplined?? Demoted?? They brought it out in the open. Why didn’t Chief Burns,Mr. Cavanaugh, and more so, Mr Tanaka hold them accountable. You see either way you slice it the ball was dropped from the top on down. So how do you say let’s move forward? Doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. Remember, your talking to cops. If that was either me or you in the same situation at our positions our asses would be in a sling.

    Mr. Olmstead summed it up best in his testimony….. It all smells like Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall.

  • Dear Mr Tanaka

    Many are asking you to do the honorable thing and retire immediately. This decision may save some of the Sheriff’s legacy. You have done several good things for this Department, however your bullyness, career stomping and ineffective leadership has divided this Department. You came into HQ as a Lieutenant and have stayed here for 14 years. You just don’t have the experience for the position you now hold. As the heat has been turned up on you, now you actually acknowledge us in the hallways trying to rehabilitate your reputation. One action of yours that captures the core of you on how you treat people is when you moved the U/S Secretary out of her job, 6 weeks prior to her retirement. She was a 50 YEAR employee whose professionalism was equaled by none. You reduced this person to tears and I will never forget or forgive you for this. Can you?

    If anyone objectively (non-kool aide drinkers) listened to your testimony,(Colonel Jessup would be proud) at best, you were ignorant with your memory, but most would say you lied many times. Your one huge mis-step was when you called the Federal Officers Liars. Since the commission posed the question to you, I am sure they have statements from the officers. Your comment sent the Roybal building into a frenzy. If they weren’t looking at you before, standby. A Federal Grand Jury can indict a parakeet

    Your complete denial of knowledge of ANY problems with force in the jails did not pass the smell test with the Commission. Thats why they asked you several times, “Is it your testimony today etc,,,” In the 2 1/2 years as the A/S of custody, you, as a top manager, never asked for the force numbers. That is equated to us believing that the VP of sales for Ford Motor Company has never asked how many cars have we sold this month? Either way, if you possessed the information or not, it was a catastrophic failure of management.

    The Sheriff wants to move on and so do many of us. However, if the one(s) responsible for this are not and have not been held accountable, history will repeat itself. I wish the Department would have moved on when one of us was in the grease, but didn’t and shouldn’t have.

    Mr Tanaka, you personally have caused this Department great shame in the print and TV media. Unfortunately, most of you reading this don’t realize that we are a National story. Set your google alert to Sheriff Baca and or Undersheriff Tanaka. You will receive negative stories from the NY Times, Miami Herald , Boston Globe and on and on. Yeah your right, they are just bloggers. We are no longer one of the premier LE agencies.

    You have promoted some good people but somewhere you diverted and started to promote loyalty to you and not on skill set. You promoted a Captain who is one of the worse violators of incomplete or missing force packages from MCJ. Are you holding him accountable? or are we moving on. Two of your Captain selections are relieved of duty. Shall we just bring them back and move on? A lot of your selections are operating at one or two ranks above their skill set. The public will suffer and the people they command will also. I honestly don’t know if there is a real pay to play. When I look at your donor list though, over 90% have been promoted or in a coveted job above their time in grade. At best, this appears to raise a red flag.

    In my career, I have never seen so much bad press on LASD that we have been bombarded with the last two years. Employees who would vomit at the thought of leaking info to the press are now flocking to them with every dirty secret that pops up. This is all directed at you, but unfortunately the Sheriff will and continue to suffer.

    I hope by now you should have come to the realization that your Master Plan of becoming Sheriff has had its sunset. I must give you Kudos though, everything was going as planned the last 5-6 years with you calling all the shots including Waldie’s and the Sheriff’s Aides. The money was pouring into the Gardena campaign to build a future election war chest, you married a very good lady, had a wonderful son and then MCJ had its infamous holiday party that led to the 3000 boys and exposed Cruz. It has continued to snowball up until your testimony last week. That, I submit to you, sealed your fate on any Major political aspirations. 2014’s dream has become 2012’s. nightmare.

    Enjoy your retirement, we will. Hell Ill even buy you a drink at next years Laughlin Retirees Roundup

  • It seems like there is some hate on this site by some people who post comments. Freedom of speech in the U.S. is a great privilege. Although many disagree, I respect your opinion. The Sheriff and Undersheriff have done a great job thus far. Like all of us, they are human and make mistakes.

    In short, I will say this, the Sheriff and Undersheriff are good people trying to do what’s right. They will continue to do it and do it well. I, and the majority of the department back our leaders, jail commission, and Board of Supes. We truly need to work together in making LASD a better place without attacking or singling out anyone (on either side of the ball). Just my take.

    P.S- No Kool Aid drinking here. Just standing up for moral and ethical thinking and moving forward.

  • Wow: You are not the Majority trust me. You have what is called blind loyalty. Please respond to any part of my previous email and tell me factually where I am wrong. Really, you support support the board of supes, as u put it, who has taken over 100 Million from our budget?

  • Wow, you sound like a SHB shill.

    We have been moving forward. Every day the backbone of this department does more with less. For the last five years. Carping, running short in every division, busting positions. Working save time instead of being compensated. Can’t take time off. I can go on and on. We move forward without complaining. We make things work. People are getting tired. So please stop with the buzz phrase move forward. We’re all moving forward. I presume the people of L.A. County will choose to “move forward” in 2014 if the right thing isn’t done.

  • Wow #17:

    “Like all of us, they are human and make mistakes”

    Mistakes can and should be forgiven depending upon intent of the offender. But mistakes are generally non-intentional and are corrected once brought to the attention of the offender. The atrocities committed by upper management are direct assaults on career opportunities, hard work, integrity etc. Once brought to their attention, they did nothing until things went public. These people cannot and should not be forgiven or trusted as their actions are not in the category of mistakes. A more appropriate category would be criminal behavior.

  • Move along people. Nothing to see here. Everything is ok. The sheriff has everything under control. Just move along and don’t stop to look. Nothing to see here. It’s no big deal.
    The LASD is moving forward and will fix the problems. That’s all any of you need to know. We will deal with disciplinary matters in-house. You don’t need to know the details. We are not doing anything shady or illegal. That’s why we want you to just move along and not stop to take a look at what’s happening.
    Just move along people. We’ve got nothing to hide. Just trust us. We’ve got it handled.

  • Train – post to “Dear Mr. Tanaka” – you nailed it man; thank you. Baca and Tanaka will continue to be poster children for the Never-Cop-Out-To-It school of deception.

    It was telling at Baca’s first inauguration in 1998, when his irreverent on-stage behavior (referring to reporter Cynthia Fox as, “Boy, she’s a FOX all right,” and then prancing around the stage and high-fiving former Undersheriff Myron and A/S Stonich) in front of the startled audience, that things in LASD were about to change — and not in a good way. None of us then could have predicted how far off the tracks Baca and his little punk buddy would derail the train or how many people would be hurt. Kamala Harris and Eric Holder: where are you two hiding?

  • Hey, all of those jails deputies that are in the grease recited Sheriff Lee Baca’s “I’m going to show everybody just how uber PC I am” Core Values everyday they were in the academy right?

    Everybody relax man. Like Larry Waldie said way back when, Sheriff Baca is in the Avante-garde of American L.E.

    From Wiki:
    Avant-garde (French pronunciation: [avɑ̃ɡaʁd]); from French, “advance guard” or “vanguard”[1]) is a French term used in English as a noun or adjective to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative,
    Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm.
    ***********************************************************
    Well there it is. Lee Baca couldn’t just be a normal sheriff and run the department like a traditional L.E. agency. He experimented. He innovated. He pushed the boundaries alright lol. Right over the cliff.

  • Bad idea post 10. Dr Schwartz got chosen to due his assessment because he met baca and fooled him a little. He got paid over 10,000 dollars for his assessment, which not one but everyone who looked at it over 15 people thought it was ridiculous. Then he wanted 130,000 more to train people on his philosophy. Admits to being no force expert. But the final blow was that he be the sole author of our force policy which is almost done being re-written. It’s all about making money down the road off the departments reputation. LASD has nothing to fear from his testimony. Read the draft, which I hope Celeste gets and you will hope they make it into a comedy series. We threw away 10,000 plus dollars.

  • Who could forget that guy. do you know Block paid that guy a lot of money and was major league fooled. It finally came out that he was never a full time cop, just a reserve in a department with less than 40 deputies. he must of had 100 fights with the same guy. you know he retired a rich man after using us, just like schwartz tried to do.

  • Verbal Judo. Thompson was his name.

    “Pershiate that sir yes I do woo shaa”

    “Heyhowyadoinpal I see you’re going to sit in the back with the back row daaaawwwgggsss”

    LMAO….what a crock of shit that was

  • Anyone notice Whitmore in the front row? He’s looking at the clock, thinking about going to King Taco for lunch

    Look at his sidekicks next to him. Two of the Department’s finest…….LOL Gee, I wonder why our fleet is painted black and white? DUUUUhhh

  • Paul, great time to og off IOD with stress. you have worked hard to get the right people in the right places. Look at Heb.., Riten…, Joey, Gon.., and many more. they will run the department right to FBI for a overview of corruption, your dealings in Gardena and all the missing COPS money or equipment that was giving away to the deps. Please step down before they start looking harder. The House of cards will be falling soon. I know that some of your command staff is already talking to the FBI. They will save themself……

  • #32 “FS”

    You are on target with that one. More corruption are coming to light in other units as of this minute. Stand by to stand by. Majority of people or almost all will absolutely SAVE THEMSELVES!!!

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