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LA Supes Talk Interim LA Sheriff, Majority of LASD Excessive Force Payouts Related to Patrol, Marijuana Offense Lifers, and the Empowerment Congress Summit

January 15th, 2014 by Taylor Walker


The LA County Board of Supervisors held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to discuss and interview prospective candidates to take over as interim sheriff upon Sheriff Lee Baca’s retirement at the end of this month. (The temporary sheriff will run the department until December, when the newly-elected sheriff will be sworn in.)

KPCC’s Rina Palta has more on the session. Here’s a clip:

On Tuesday, L.A.’s county counsel is expected to brief the board on what certifications an interim sheriff is required to have, as well as any other specifics on who is eligible for the position. Members of the board have said [Terri] McDonald is a contender, along with other assistant sheriffs in the department.

One outstanding question is whether supervisors will choose an interim sheriff who does not plan to run for the job…

County counsel has already told the board they can choose an interim leader from outside of the department, leaving open the possibility the board will appoint an interim sheriff from a different law enforcement agency.


On Monday, we mentioned that, in 2013, the LASD spent $43M in litigation payouts—accounting for almost half of the county’s total legal costs. But while much focus has been on lawsuits pertaining to the jails, three-fourths of the $20M spent on excessive force payouts came from the patrol divisions, a county attorney told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The LA Daily News’ City News Service has more on the numbers. Here are some clips:

Nearly half of the $43 million the county spent last year on lawsuits involving the department related to claims of excessive force, though most of the incidents occurred in the field, said litigation cost manager Steven Estabrook.

Supervisor Gloria Molina and others have drawn attention to payouts related to jail abuse. And the December indictment of 18 current and former deputies and supervisors in a federal investigation related to the abuse of inmates and visitors nearly ensures that those costs will rise. But it was not the primary driver of higher costs this year.


The year-over-year comparisons can be somewhat misleading, because they track dollars on a cash basis and ignore settlements agreed to and judgments ordered that have not yet been paid.

There will likely be more to come.


Indiana man, James Romans, is serving a life sentence for trafficking marijuana. There has been a steady movement toward marijuana legalization in a number of states, and last August, AG Eric Holder announced a reform package that included instructing federal prosecutors to stop seeking harsh mandatory-minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders. There are at least 24 others like Romans across the US who are serving life behind bars for larger-scale marijuana trafficking.

The Huffington Post’s Saki Knafo has more on the issue. Here’s a clip:

At least 25 people have been condemned to live out their days behind bars because they were involved in the marijuana trade, according to The Human Solution, a pot advocacy group. Some played relatively small roles in larger distribution rings and got life sentences in part because they refused to plead guilty and testify against associates. Others held positions of power in major trafficking organizations.

James Romans, a divorced 42-year-old father of three from Indiana, says he belongs in the former category. But last year, a federal judge ruled differently, sentencing him to life based on evidence suggesting that he helped run a multimillion dollar operation.

Whatever his role, the case raises questions about the fairness of punishing marijuana offenders with the criminal justice system’s harshest penalty short of death.

“It doesn’t seem to me in this day and age, when states are debating whether marijuana should be legal, that people who traffic in it should be spending their lives behind bars,” said David Zlotnick, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and an expert on drug sentencing laws at Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island. “If we’re not sure whether this drug should even be an illegal narcotic, why are we sending people to jail for life for it?”


According to the federal Bureau of Prisons, it costs an average of $30,000 a year to keep someone confined in a high-security lockup, and as a person ages and requires more medical care, the cost increases. “We’re talking 40, 50, 60 thousand dollars a year to keep someone in a cell until they die, when they could be working and paying into their insurance,” Zlotnick said. “It’s insane.”


The 22nd Annual Empowerment Congress Summit will take place this Saturday, Jan. 18, at USC. The congress, started by LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will bring advocate groups together, and include discussions on the sex trafficking of kids, healthcare, racial justice, and other topics of high importance to Los Angeles and beyond.

Here’s a clip from the announcement from Supe MRT’s office:

The summit’s plenary session, which begins at 9 a.m. in Bovard Auditorium, will feature a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Nelson Mandela, and will have participation from an array of elected officials and community leaders. Participating will be: Compton Mayor Aja Brown; Lynwood Mayor Aide Castro, USC President C. L. Max Nikias, attorney and social justice advocate Sandra Fluke, surgeon, medical researcher, businessman and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong, Dr. Robert K. Ross, CEO of the California Endowment, Irma Muñoz, founder of the environmental non-profit environmental justice group Mujeres de la Tierra and Laphonza Butler, president of Service Employees International Union–the United Long Term Care Workers’ Union.

Widely regarded as the forerunner to the neighborhood council movement, the Empowerment Congress was founded by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was a Los Angeles City Councilman. Each year, the various committees of the organization come together to re-dedicate themselves to activism and advocacy. This year’s summit will honor the civil and human rights legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died last month. Both King and Mandela were enormously influential in the struggle to establish equal rights for all human beings and inspired generations of activists here in Los Angeles and around the world.

(You can learn more about the summit, and register, here.)

Posted in LA County Board of Supervisors, LASD, Marijuana laws, Sentencing, Sheriff Lee Baca, War on Drugs | 33 Comments »

33 Responses

  1. Searchlight Says:

    I just looked at the WLA pic with Baca at the podium, making “his announcement to leave on his own terms.” Ok Lee, whatever makes you feel good. And it really caused me to reflect about the current state of LASD, what a mess.

    I ask everyone within the LASD family, active duty, retired or simply family members or friends of both, to really do a little soul searching to put things into perspective for we are truly at a crossroads, the proverbial “fork in road.” I’m not going to get into the weeds, I’m not going to get “personal, per se’ ” but I am going to call it what it is, the truth.

    Lee Baca has always had some very serious mental issues. I won’t call it mental illness, but he does have a serious personality disorder. Just think about this, what kind of individual would write his PhD dissertation of “Decriminalizing Incest” with the core of his thinking being that the Suspects need treatment, not incarceration and the Victims need healing, not revenge. Fast forward to his first year or so into office as Sheriff all the way up to just prior to his pathetic resignation “under my terms” announcement. Lee fancied himself as the ultimate Progressive, philosopher extrodinare’ and the only forward thinker worth of breathing air. “I am my teachers.” Lee wandered the hallways and byways of LASD and the world, strumming his harp and spewing his words of nothingness. Throw all of his mismanagement and unethical behavior and everything in-between, there is no need to rehash it all, and asked, who allowed this all to happen?

    The media, our supposed watch dogs of justice, gave Lee a pass for virtually everything. He did it all right in plain view, but they gave him a pass. Why? Because Lee was of their ideology, much like Obama. The liberal politicians who dominate California politics, the Hollywood elite and the political elite all gave Lee a pass. Why? Because Lee was of their ideology. His power was their power, much like Obama. And then there are the LASD insiders and 4th Floor executives who none, not one but Olmsted, had the stones to say or do the right thing to expose this mess.

    And then there is Paul Tanaka and his pirate ship. I won’t waste the time to get into the weeds. This story is common knowledge to all. So all of you folks who became Paul’s enablers, those who did his dirty work and those who jumped in, all the way in, to his philosophy, his morales and ethics, his quest for power, look at the results. Yes you, look into that mirror and look deep into your eyes, the window of your soul. Are you proud of what you were a part of. Did that job, that promotion, your coin, your place in the throne room, was it worth it all? Oh sure, you will make a few more bucks on retirement, but at what cost to your reputation and your own personal and inner wellbeing? You know who you are and what you have done. “Anything you want Paul, right away Paul. Oh yes, Paul, I will stand with you when you announce, Paul.” And there are hundreds more inside LASD who did the dirty work, whispered the information, fed the monster. As the indictments came, you folks have begun to hide, now proclaiming your errors, but we all know who your are and what you’ve done and more importantly, who you did it for and why. Your own personal gain at the expense of so many good, ethical and dedicated men/women whose careers and professional lives you destroyed to curry favor with the little emperor. Their blood is on your hands.

    And then then there are the 75% who stood by and suffered in silence. Now is your time to speak out and do the right thing for LASD. You can standby and say nothing and do nothing to support change and let the king makers inside the Hall of Administration install McDonnell or you can support a candidate who will restore LASD to what it always should have been. I am advocating support for the one viable candidate worthy of our support, Bob Olmsted. Support Rogers, same old game. Hellmold, [edit] will be the same old game X 10. Nothing against the other candidates, but you guys can help support Bob in ways no one else can.

    There you have it, simple choice. Maybe the next round of indictments will be the nudge you need, I understand they will be quite a spectacle, and its not over yet, just starting. Thank you for your time, these are just my opinions. You all have an opportunity do do what is right for our LASD, don’t squander it.

  2. interesting Says:

    Searchlight well said. There are many who quietly support Bob Olmsted. The time is coming for their voices to be heard.

  3. Almost there Says:

    With Baca leaving and Tanaka’s camp starting to worry, perhaps it is the time to openly support a candidate and not worry about being targeted after the election.

  4. Nancy Drew Says:

    I’m giving Rogers and Hellmold a little chance, hoping they recognize by now all the damage. But if they don’t weed out the Tanaka appointees real soon, many of us will commit to Bob!

  5. The Truth Says:

    The board needs to appoint Bob Olmsted as Interim Sheriff. The corrupt executives need to go.

  6. LATBG Says:

    I’m not sure what Rogers and Hellmold’s game plan is, but it seems pretty selfish at this point. Neither of them has a shot at defeating either McDonnell or Olmsted, as they carry the double baggage of opportunists and Baca bootlickers.

    These two ego driven bureaucrats need to step back, take a deep breath, and admit they are not going to be sheriff. They both have the opportunity to salvage what is left of their reputation by marshaling the resources at their disposal and supporting Olmsted’s bid to defeat the hostile takeover from outsiders.

    Every move McDonnell makes confirms what we suspected all along, he is a politician first and is quite comfortable in the midst of Baca’s establishment enablers. His election as sheriff would be an utter disaster for what is left of the morale of the department. You can count on a current executive or two already circling the McDonnell camp, looking for a leg to latch on to.

    For all the remaining executives, enjoy your ill-gotten gains on the way out. The least you could do before you end your careers is to leave the department in the capable hands of Olmsted.

    Mark my words, this election represents the only shot the Board of Supervisors has at taking over the department, and McDonnell is their Trojan horse. To quote “Shawshank Redemption” get busy living, or get busy dying.

  7. IthacaBoomer Says:

    LATBG- You’re either a professional political spin master, fictional author, or Department member who stands to gain ALOT if Olmstead pulled off the 1000-1 longshot. Next time you decide to give a blow by blow of a race go to Santa Anita, nobody wants to hear you. I’m curious, When’s the last time somebody won an election on a whistle blower campaign? Your candidate is qualified to be a referee (they blow whistles) or he can sell his story to Hollywood ala Erin Brokovitch. On second thought, scrap the referee idea, he doesn’t call it like he sees it until the game is over.

  8. LATBG Says:

    IthacaBoomer, to quote Ronald Reagan, “there you go again.” The entire department stands to gain an honest sheriff if Olmsted wins, and the entire department loses if McDonnell does. Either way, I won’t be around long enough to see the end result.

    Judging by your comments, you appear to be one of those who stands to lose a lot with an honest sheriff in office.

  9. Frank Murphy Says:

    Itahcaboomer, I want to hear from LATBG.

  10. Line Guy Says:

    LATBG: You’re comments are over the top. Please explain why Mr Olmstead deserves to be Sheriff. Explain all the “changes” he implemented while he held a position of power. Starting from when he held rank as a Sgt. All of a sudden he blows the whistle on the jail scandals as a Commander and he is the most qualified? Give me a break.

  11. Time to Clean House Says:

    The only people who should  fear Olmsted or McDonnell  as Sheriff  are those who got away with breaking policy and operated  as they pleased.  Remember, whoever wins will have  to follow the same State Laws  and County Policies. The difference between these guys and Baca is they won’t be afraid to enforce it. The lack of  discipline and strong leadership eroded this department. The misconduct cases are ridiculous. The  candidate that wins will have to correct years of  damage  this organization. 

    The other day I saw a young S. O. (who’s in  hiring process  for deputy by the way) lie to a Sergeant  about being late to work. When the Sergeant stated they witnessed the time the employee came in, the employee finally admitted it.  Could this employee become a   Deputy that would lie about a use of force incident or write a false report? If you would lie about something small, what else would they attempt to deceive us about. It really made me think about the kind of culture have we fostered. Nancy Drew is right, the house cleaning needs to start now.

    “Within the LASD there is deeply disturbing evidence of excessive force and lax discipline.” James Kolts  July 20, 1992

    “Simply stated, the Sheriff did not pay enough attention to the jails until external events forced him to do so. Further, his senior leaders failed to monitor conditions in the jails and elevate use of force issues so that they received the necessary attention by the Sheriff, and the Undersheriff engaged in conduct that undermined supervision of aggressive deputies and promoted an environment of lax and untimely discipline of deputy misconduct.” Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence Sept. 2012

  12. CARONE1033 Says:

    McDonnell will have an uphill road indeed if he’s elected. While he can justly claim law enforcement executive experience, he knows little about the questionable personalities who will stick around LASD smiling as he comes in the door. Little alone the history. I wonder just WHO will point out the mine fields to him, and what depth of appreciation for the malignant heart Captains and above he will ever really aquire. The Execs could have taken a stand in solidarity with one another long ago, confronting The Man, but couldn’t take the risk, find the spine. What resulted was long forseen. A/S Rogers is a creature of Baca’s bullet train to lofty status and for that reason alone should be questionable as the new choice. Like Olmsted or not, he’s been in the LASD battle before and knows the players, knows the score. Folks it IS going to end up being one of those three.

  13. YouGottaBeKidding!! Says:

    The “crime fighter” has thrown his hat in the ring!!! Hilarious!!

  14. LATBG Says:

    Line guy, perhaps you should ask that question of all the candidates, fair enough? You may discover that as a sergeant or lieutenant there is not a whole lot of change you can do but do your job honestly and take care of the people you work with by keeping them out of trouble.

    Olmsted passes with flying colors at every rank, by the way. Can’t say the same for the others within the LASD. I am not familiar enough with McDonnell’s history with LAPD, so I can’t help you there either.

  15. bluepiggy Says:

    I’d like to see a mandatory debate with all the candidates no different than that of the Presidential election debates.

  16. IthacaBoomer Says:

    LATBG-Educate me on how you use “take care of the people you work with by keeping them out of trouble” when referencing Olmstead. Aren’t a large number of the personnel in his chain of command facing Federal prison? How do you call that flying colors? Please clarify without quotes from movies or past Presidents. Also, if you have time contact Frank Murphy. He wants to hear from you but please spare us the details.

  17. pillar of truth Says:

    Blue piggy…… will see a debate at the in downtown Los Angeles on February 19,2014. Bring your popcorn. Lol

  18. Jack Dawson Says:,0,2283468.story#axzz2qdinNSfp

    You can’t make this up if you tried… We are at least going to enjoy the negative ads against you.

  19. Nancy Drew Says:

    So this is how little CPA Tanaka balanced the books, stealing inmates money:

    He probably had the deputies beat them up if they tried to claim their money on release.

    Additionally, the LASD left $160m laying around while making us CARP. Total mismanagement.

    Oh, and Todd and Jim, we are still watching. Everyday of no action you lose votes.

  20. Investigative Mind Says:

    Oh no!!!

  21. bluepiggy Says:

    To Pillar…. – Hahaha, I know, I know,

  22. Time to Clean House Says:

    I hope you’re not  hold your breath Nancy Drew. Todd and Jim are   busy running for Sheriff. Jim gave Tanaka 100.00 in his 2008 campaign for mayor. Don’t expect him to take action against people who  have coins. 

    Jack Dawson not sure what  Custody Assistant Roxanne Sanchez video has to do with Jimmy running. 

    I do know that she had felony charges filed  against her for  forgery and grand theft. She  also received up to a 30 day suspension that she appealed this week with Civil Service(page 2 number 8) 

    It just goes to show some feel it’s okay   to have an employee  that would  lie and steal. Yet we wonder why anybody would want to vote for an outsider to become Sheriff.

  23. SHQinformant Says:

    #22,,,what a shame, Ms. Sanchez should have got fired. But then again, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Look at Sgt. Miller from Compton Station. He only got a seven (7) day suspension for a felony DUI.

  24. Investigative Mind Says:

    Let me get this straight, she had felony charges filed on her for forgery and grand theft? Is this the same person who lied to Sheriff Personnel Unit about being ordered to deploy for military service, but actually never received such orders to leave her job for military leave?

    If so, seems she has a lot of dirt on someone to only get 30 day suspension.

  25. IthacaBoomer Says:

    I heard Rogers say on the news it doesn’t matter if 100, 500 or 1000 indictments come down, “I’ll still be standing.” That’s great for morale Todd. Everyone on the sidelines like you remains standing. Rogers would never be indicted because he went into hiding the day Sheriff Block passed away. Baca made a monumental mistake by promoting him. He showed his gratitude when he again stood on the sideline during the infamous press conference. Couldn’t he have waited until the following day and made his announcement surrounded by girl scouts in Lakewood?? Typical Todd. Selfish with no class. No surprises there.

  26. Time to Clean House Says:

    That’s her investigative mind. Here’s two others. Remember when this site reported on  Commander David Waters in a story called motorcycle madness? Or Capt. Donahue’s  golf outing with an inmate? Check out pages 103 and 175 of the  latest O.I.R. Report to see how the dept. dealt with these two supervisors behavior. Can’t believe Waters has the nerve to threaten a lawsuit for retaliation. Page 14 also is interesting about some the academy D.I.’s. For all the detractors of this site who want to call what’s reported here a work of fiction, think again.  Rodgers, Hellmold or Tanaka for Sheriff, I’ll pass.

  27. SkyIsFalling Says:

    @Jack Dawson:

    Hahahahahaha well played.

  28. Prophet Mo' Teff Says:

    Add the University of Southern California to the list of those who gave a free pass to “wacky tacky” Lee Baca. USC gave Lee Baca a free pass to pretend that his “honorary” Phd. was earned by submitting a genuine, research-based, peer-reviewed and qualified dissertation.

    USC risked it’s accreditation by accepting Baca’s “junk” science “junk” dissertation. However, the product of Sheriff Baca’s scholarly efforts is not completely worthless – it can be studied for insight into Baca’s mindset and the transformation of corporate culture during his 14 years in office as Sheriff.

    1. Baca’s paper deliberately confuses the meaning of basic terms. This can be seen as a naked attempt to mislead the reader as to the real subject of Baca’s interest or simply an exercise in self-delusion.

    2. Baca’s paper claims “incest” as the subject of his research and puts forward an assumption that “incest” is against the law.

    3. In reality, “incest” is not against the law as long as it occurs between consenting adults.

    4. Baca’s paper never admits what is painfully obvious, he has no interest in studying the subject of “incest”. His only interest comes in focusing on a subset of incestuous relationships – specifically, sexual relations between a father and daughter.

    5. Baca admits that he didn’t actually do the work himself. He gives credit to the Sheriff Dept. employees who compiled the statistical information he wanted and typed the paper into an acceptable format. Like everything Baca does – he identifies where to assign the credit or blame, he accepts for himself all of the honors, and the taxpayer writes a check for all of the bills.

    6. Baca admits the paper is only 50% finished. The paper presents a survey which was constructed in order to conduct the research, but the survey was never administered to any one. As in real life – Baca seeks compliments for programs when they are still merely concepts. He seeks accolades for accomplishments when they are still fledgling programs.

    7. The survey questions which Baca has crafted for the purpose of conducting his research are not original work. Baca’s paper does not admit that he has plagiarized the questions and modified them for administration to a daughter who has been involved in sexual relations with her father.

    8. What is the original source of the survey questions which Sheriff Baca has modified for asking daughters who were bedded down by their father?

    9. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca’s USC Phd. Dissertation survey research questions come from the Dianetic’s Personality Test administered by the Church of Scientology to draw the interest of potential new recruits.

  29. Doesn't Matter Says:

    It doesn’t matter anymore. The insane new age Scientologist Sheriff is out. Hellmold is playing nice with him for one reason and one reason only, to secure his endorsement for sheriff. Baca thinks he’ll still have a hand and a voice in the sheriff’s department even when he is out of office if Hellmold is elected. He won’t. He’ll be discarded like an outdated carton of milk. He is just being used by his acolyte to get Baca’s financial backing. After the election, even if Hellmold wins, he will have no use for Baca, The days of Baca having any say in the workings, direction or policies of the department are long gone. Hellmold, like everyone else who has ever been close to Baca, knows he is an out of touch new age insane senile old man who is extremely prone to looney ideas and controversial policies.
    Even if Hellmold pulls of a miracle and wins the election, six months after the election, people will be saying: “Lee who”?

  30. Surprised Says:

    USC is a joke because of LASDU. Sit in front of a computer for a few months, get a worthless degree from a school nobody has heard of, front up some money and get another phony “Certificate” from a worthless “Master’s” program at USC. LMAO, anything for a buck Trojans.

  31. Doesn't Matter Says:

    What is really going to be tough on Baca is that nobody will have any use for him after the end of the month. His donors, his “Special Reserves” and all the other people who curried favor with him because of what they could get from him (badges, guns, power, being big shots in their community because they had Baca’s ear) aren’t going to give him the time of day. Nobody is going to want to hear his opinion, much less heed his advice. He is a running joke among the heads of other LE agencies. Leroy D. Baca is going to fall hard. Harder than he could of ever imagined.

  32. gmanwhistle Says:

    As a member of the sheriff’s department…..please elect Mcdonnell and eliminate the current culture inside the department. We need to cut ties with anyone tied to Tanaka or Baca and any current executive who worked for them.

  33. LATBG Says:

    gmanwhistle, you need to re-assess your choice. McDonnell is the perfect choice for the Board of Supervisors to gain control over the department, something they have been wishing for decades. They need a puppet to do as they please and run the department through him. McDonnell is not an independent leader, he comes with all the strings attached to the political establishment that enabled Baca to remain corrupt for years.

    Don’t take my word for it, do your own research.

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