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Baca Reportedly Hires LASD’s New Head of Custody & New LASD Memo Causes Concern.

February 6th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


Sheriff Lee Baca has reportedly chosen Terri McDonald, up until recently the Undersecretary of the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) to be his new Assistant Sheriff in charge of custody. The creation of this post to be filled by a custody expert from outside the department was among the main recommendations made by the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence.

(UPDATE: The selection of McDonald has not yet been officially announced. But LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore has confirmed that McDonald is indeed the sheriff’s choice, that the deal has been made. “She’s excited,” he said. “The board has until February 15 to object, and then it’s a done deal. She has a great resume. And, in addition to her decades of custody experience, she’s a subject matter expert on AB109 since she worked with the governor when it was being written.”

Baca launched the search for a custody head very shortly after the commission delivered its findings at it is to his credit that he has followed through so quickly.

A look at McDonald’s background shows she has had a 24-year career in state government that started as a correctional officer, so she is familiar with the workings of a paramilitary organization and comfortable with the chain of command.

I’ve only done preliminary checking around, but her reputation with CDCR-watchers I spoke with is, thus far, good. “She’s smart, moral, and works very, very hard,” said one. “Incredibly hard working,” agreed another, “and very effective at implementing programs.”

More on McDonald as we learn it.


WitnessLA has obtained a revision to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department manual (see below) that sets down policies regarding conduct on the internet. The memo announcing the changes has reportedly causing many LASD personnel worry that they will be sanctioned for anonymous postings in the comments sections of news sites like WitnessLA, LA Weekly or the Los Angeles Times, if those comments are critical of the sheriff’s department or members of its command staff.

Here are the new sections in question:

All Department members shall be held accountable for their utterances, writings, conduct,
and visual representations,including electronic and web-based communications, when
they conflict with Our Core Values, Our Mission, or Our Creed and personnel can
reasonably be identified as Department members. Personnel who cause undue
embarrassment or damage the reputation of and/or erode the public’s confidence in the
Department shall be deemed to have violated this policy.
Unit commanders shall ensure copies of Our Mission, Our Core Values, and Our Creed
are clearly and prominently displayed and maintained in the public lobbies of all Sheriff’s
Department facilities.

Unit Commanders shall ensure copies of Our Mission, Our Core Values, and Our Creed
are clearly and prominently displayed and maintained within a high-traffic work area in all
Sheriff’s Department’s facilities (e.g., briefing room) for viewing by assigned personnel.

Electronic and web-based communications include any medium used to deliver
information electronically or digitally. Examples of electronic and web-based
communications include, but are not limited to, websites, “smart” phone technologies, text
messaging, Nixle, electronic mail (email) and “social media” sites such Facebook,
Myspace, Pinterest, and Twitter; photo sharing websites such as Flickr; video sharing
websites such as YouTube; and/or any other similar electronic or digital delivery system.
“Social media” includes any electronic medium where users may create, share, and view
user-generated content, including uploading or downloading videos or still photographs,
blogs, video blogs, podcasts, or instant messages, or online social networking content.

We talked to LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore about the new rules and he said there was nothing to worry about. “This is by no stretch an attempt to abridge anybody’s First Amendment rights,” Whitmore said. “It’s just to say, ‘Be careful. It’s the wild, wild west out there.’ I mean most people are anonymous anyway when they post comments—and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “At least people believe they’re anonymous.”

Mostly, said Whitmore, “it’s just a reminder that you represent the entire agency, so behave accordingly.”

Posted in CDCR, elections, Free Speech, jail, LA County Board of Supervisors, LA County Jail, LASD, Sheriff Lee Baca | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. InterestedParty Says:

    No disrespect meant to Terri McDonald, her experience, abilities or her possibly being the selection for the A/S Custody Czar position, but the Commission missed the mark on this recommendation. Window dressing appointments matter little when two inept and corrupt LASD execs continue to run the organization. Baca and Tanaka will still control the entire Department, and the subterranean power over Custody matters will still reside with Tanaka and his loyalists. Ms. McDonald’s authority will be usurped when her decisions are viewed not consistent with Paul’s. The bad apples will continue to poison the workforce. “I don’t work for you (Ms. McDonald), I work for Paul Tanaka!”

  2. Zen Master or Slow Learner? Says:

    Ah, the Zen Master. An Undersheriff and two Assistant Sheriffs obviously aren’t enough to handle the job. That’s right Dr. Baca, Zen Master, the taxpayers of LA County can most definitely foot the bill of another huge salary.
    How progressive. What vision. Every other previous Sheriff just muddled through and tried in vain to get the job done with what was historically his command staff.
    But not you Zen Master. Because of your forward thinking, your oh so progressive approach and your pinpoint focus on doing the job you were elected to do, it’s obvious that yet another person is needed to help run the LASD.
    What a legacy you will leave behind. I’m quite sure all the other previous sheriff’s would be envious of your accomplishments.
    You’ve made history Zen Master.
    I’m just oh so surprised that the LASD was ever able to function without you. You have certainly been thinking outside the box and concentrating on other things that the previous unenlightened sheriffs felt were not their concern.
    The LASD has flourished under your watch while you have globetrotted the world spreading your message.
    Under a lessor leader, the LASD would be scandal plagued and in turmoil.

    Kudos Zen Master.

  3. prophet mo' teff Says:

    Why can’t this new order also require that the LASD Code of Ethics is prominently displayed in all public lobbies?

    The Code of Ethics distills the zeitgist of the Sheriff Baca system – it lays out two primary guiding principles – which will result in mutually exclusive directives under many real-life situations.

    One paragraph requires a deputy to uphold the law and practice all of the oft-repeated virtues. Basically – be honest and uphold the law at all times.

    The next paragraph requires the deputy to remain forever silent about many things which they will see and hear in the course of duty. Basically – keep your trap shut or get chopped down.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Sheriff Lee in Bacaland.

  4. shake my head Says:

    Celeste, I just want to know when you will expose the all mighty Steve Whitmore (sheriff’s spokehole) who has never been a deputy on the sheriff department. I roll on the ground laughing at the stupid comments he makes like he has actually done the job. I imagine you know his past but if you don’t, he is the son of some actor that Baca met or liked back in the day. This guy is a joke and needs to leave.

  5. Coyote Waits Says:

    Can you imagine how every Chief, Commander, and Captain feels now on this Department? It will be interesting to see the retirement list this March. Well, at least there will be a lot of room for promotions……Oh, Paul already has those spoken for. Nevermind. Hey, any followup on the Dave Waters use of County material and labor on his personal bike? Or did that just get swept under the carpet too?

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