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The Sheriff, the Undersheriff & the Commander: Part 1

July 30th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon


Last Friday, July 27, the Citizens Committee on Jail Violence heard public testimony from Sheriff Lee Baca and his Undersheriff, Paul Tanaka.

We will have more commentary on their appearances on Wednesday and again later in the week.

[And you can find the audio for Friday's hearing here and here.]

But first, it is helpful to have a broader context with which to view the testimony by Sheriff Baca and most particularly by Undersheriff Tanaka who, in the course of answering nearly four hours worth of questions by one of the commission’s counsels, accused four department captains, a lieutenant, a sergeant, a high profile retired commander and a crop of others not specifically named (but darkly alluded to), of either fabricating events, deliberately misrepresenting actions for their own agendas, or out-and-out lying.

So who is telling the truth?

With this question in mind, perhaps the very most instructive frame of reference with which to assess Friday’s events, is an account of the testimony of a previous witness, Retired Commander Robert Olmsted, who appeared before the commission in May, and who is the prime person whom Tanaka labeled a liar.

Be forewarned. This is a long narrative. And certainly, Olmsted’s testimony simply represents one man’s point of view. Yet it is a point of view that is unusually authoritative, clear and comprehensive, and it was corroborated by testimony from the four department witnesses who testified before and after him.

For those of you who are following the ongoing LASD drama—a drama where a so much at stake—I think you’ll find it absolutely essential reading.




THE COMMANDER

Straight-backed and going gray with a closely clipped beard, Bob Olmsted has the mysterious quality that law enforcement types refer to as command presence.

He came to oversee Men’s Central Jail in December of 2006, some months after then-Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka, the executive who oversaw the custody division from January 2005 to June 2007, reportedly became incensed at Captain John Clark, the man who was, at the time, overseeing the county’s largest and most troubled jail facility. It seems, Clark was not running CJ in the way that Mr. Tanaka wanted. Most specifically, in order to address escalating incidents of questionable force by deputies on inmates in the jail, Clark had elected to institute a job rotation plan for CJ personnel that had long been recommended by others who had studied the problem, but that Tanaka had decided he loathed. As a consequence, Tanaka rescinded Clark’s plan and then became intensely determined to get Clark out of CJ and out of the custody division altogether.

[WitnessLA has reported on the back story between Mr. Tanaka and Mr. Clark and some of his supervisors, here, here and here.]

Olmsted, whom he knew to be well-liked by Sheriff Baca, was the person whom Tanaka tapped to replace Clark.

Olmsted told the commission that when he got the call about replacing Clark, he had only spoken to Mr. Tanaka once before. He said that while he had zero interest in leaving his existing post, a prestigious job in commercial crimes investigations, when Tanaka asked him to make the move, he agreed to do it.

“I’m a team player,” Olmsted told the commission.

Tanaka did not tell Olmsted much about why he wanted Clark out so much. “He said there were morale issues, force issues,” Olmsted explained, “and there was an attempt to rotate all the deputies on the jail”—a strategy that Tanaka made clear to Olmsted that he despised.

Olmsted said that Tanaka reportedly said nothing specific about what he’d like a new captain to do differently, in terms of supervision or strategy, or even goals he wanted hit, he was emphatic about certain additional personnel changes he wanted. There were three sergeants and a lieutenant whom Tanaka wanted Olmsted to get rid of, for reasons that were never made clear. (Olmsted checked the four out, determined they were doing a fine job, and kept them on anyway.)

Most importantly, Tanaka said, he had a guy named Dan Cruz whom he told Olmsted was to be his operations lieutenant, making him the second in command at the jail.

“He wouldn’t have been my choice,” Olmsted said of Cruz. He would have chosen someone, he said, who was “more hands on, more personable, someone who could talk to the deputies and get ‘em motivated.” Still Olmsted agreed to take Cruz out of courtesy to the assistant sheriff, who made it plain he was keen on the transfer.

He would learn much later how drastically unsuited Cruz was for the job, and how his assignment to the jails had little to do with merit, and everything to do with his relationship to Mr. Tanaka.


THE CRUZ FACTOR

To understand this next section of the testimony having to do with Dan Cruz, it helps to know a little about Cruz’s past in the department, a past that Olmsted discovered only much later, as he explained to the commission.

“After I was retired,” Omsted told the commissioners, “I was getting phone calls right and left about stuff that was transpiring at the department.” One such contact, he said, was from a recently retired commander. [He] gave me a call and said, ‘I’m the one that mandated Dan Cruz be transferred from Lennox station.’ He and another lieutenant over there were deficient in the way they handled service comment report and force packages. They were eighteen months behind.”

In response to quizzical looks from the commissioner members, Olmsted explained. “Service comment reports are citizen complaints,” he said. “And ‘use of force packages’ are generated when force is used on individual, a suspect or otherwise. The sergeant looks at the package first. Then the operations lieutenant or station captain “makes the final adjudication.”

This last action is what Cruz neglected inexcusably.

Olmsted went on to explain how the consequence of Cruz holding on to these “packages” of paperwork for 18 months. “You only have one year to look into [a charge of excessive force or a citizen complaint],” said Olmsted. So when Cruz let the complaints and the force reports languish for a year and a half, this meant he effectively rendered each one worthless. This meant if real wrongdoing had occurred on the part of a deputy, or if force was found to be out of policy, “there was nothing you can do.”

“All this made everything make sense after the fact about the problems I had as a commander at Men’s Central Jail,” Olmsted said, of his belated revelations about his new operations lieutenant.

But, back in 2006, Olmsted knew none of Cruz’s history of ignoring complaints. He only knew, he said, that Cruz seemed overly concerned by being one-of-the guys the deputies. “Dan’s the kind of guy who wants to be liked. He’ll do everything he can to try make the deputies happy. I have no problem with that. But sometimes discipline needs to come into play. “

Since part of his job as a supervisor, Olmsted told the commission, was to groom those officers directly under him, he wasn’t bothered by Cruz’s lack of supervisory skills, as he saw the younger man as someone he could mentor.


USE OF FORCE & DEPUTY CLIQUES

Olmsted is a very thorough man by nature. Thus in order have the best possible grasp of what he was walking into at Men’s Central Jail, before he began at his new post, he made a point of setting up a meeting with Clark, the captain whom he was replacing.

“We talked for hours about what was going on,” Olmsted told the commissioners. “He said there were force issues, deputy clicks”—like the now infamous 2000 Boys and 3000 Boys. Clark talked about his (now much written about) attempt to institute the assignment rotation to deal with the cliques.

He also warned Olmsted that three of the lieutenants who would be working under him would be reporting—not to him, but directly to the Assistant Sheriff. “I was told that Wes Sutton, Chris Nee, and Kevin Ebert all reported surreptitiously [to the assistant sheriff] after work, and had monthly meetings with Mr. Tanaka.”

It was, to say the least, a highly unorthodox breech of command structure.

But the undersheriff was becoming known for such breeches.


WORK THE GRAY

In answer to a question from the Commission’s legal counsel, Richard Drooyan, Olmsted said he had no knowledge of the content of those off-the-reservation meetings with Assistant Sheriff Tanaka.

But when Drooyan followed up and asked the commander if he ever heard Mr. Tanaka “…using a term called working in the gray?” Olmsted said he had indeed. He’d not heard it first hand, he said, but he’d definitely heard about it from a variety of close colleagues who had been present when Paul Tanaka gave one of his Work the Gray speeches.

“A very good friend of mine said that when he was in sergeant super school, he said Mr. Tanaka came in and said, ‘You guys need to work the gray area. Work it hard!’”

Drooyan interrupted. “What do you consider ‘working the gray area’ meant?’

Olmsted: “Anything in the gray areas in considered outside policy, as far as I’m concerned. The ‘gray area’ can be interpreted any personal way you want. But it can very easily be construed to be illegal by nature.”

When Olmsted took over CJ, he felt that the work the gray ethic was on display in many areas of the jail’s daily operations. Olmsted then listed for the commission some of the issues at the jail that caused him the most immediate concern.


DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS

In his first week as captain, he said he made a point of walking the floors so he could become acquainted with the deputies and make his presence known. In one of these first walks, he said, he had an “amazing experience. It began, he said, when he walked into the 2000 floor control booth, and saw a deputy with a broken right hand. “What happened to you?” asked Olmsted. “I hit a inmate in the head.” Olmsted said that the deputy replied.

Olmsted was taken aback. “’Really?!” he testified he said to the deputy. “You know, that’s not good for your career.” He chatted with the man, and suggested “there were other ways to subdue an inmate.”

Olmsted then walked up to the floor above, the 3000 floor, and again strolled into the control both. “Same thing. There was a deputy with a broken right hand. I said, ‘What happened to you?’” He too said he’d hit an inmate in the head. Olmsted stayed to talk to the second deputy about all the reasons that head slugging was not the way to go.

Since at this point, Olmsted’s account was starting to sound like a standup comedy routine, one of the commissioners blurted, “Are you serious?”

“Serious as a heart attack,” said Olmsted.

Then he went up to the 4000 floor. Another deputy, another broken hand.

“Don’t tell me,” said Olmsted. “You hit a deputy in the head.”

“No I missed and hit the wall.”

Ba-da-bum!

Olmsted related the events with a storyteller’s touch, but he appeared dead serous about the disturbing implication: on floor after floor, certain deputies were using intense physical violence as their default strategy to control inmate behavior.

It was a matter, Olmsted said, he began taking aggressive steps to stop.

Yet, even before Olmsted encountered the string of broken-handed deputies, he saw other signs of the kind of attitude toward inmates that could easily presage violence:

During his first week on duty, Olmsted told the commissioners, a federal judge called to enquire regarding a rumor he’d heard about problematic graffiti scrawled by deputies inside one of the 3000 floor control booths, specifically the booth on the 3100 block.

“He gave me a call around noon one day. I remember it distinctly because you don’t have a judge call you up often.” The judge met Olmsted at the jail and together the two men went to inspect the control booth in question. When they arrived inside the booth, Olmsted was aghast.

“I found an atrocious sight!” he told the commissioners. Only sworn personnel operate such control booths, he explained, so there could be no blaming of anyone else for the hostile and juvenile vandalism but deputies and their supervisors.

“You have to get two keys to get into it. Inside the second area that you have to go through two locked doors to get access. “ Once past those sets of locked doors, “there was malicious scribbling all over the walls,” he said. “Around the computer keyboard, on the monitor, on the fire hose, which was on strung out on the floor. Olmsted said that the judge was particular concerned with a bumper sticker that was on the control key box. “Please don’t feed the animals.”

Given the high use-of-force statistics in CJ, neither Olmsted nor the judge were inclined to dismiss the scrawled messages as a boys-will-be-boys prank.

“It was ugly. It was just plain ugly,” Olmsted told the commission.

Olmsted said he asked for an immediate “roll-out” from the Internal Affairs Bureau. But after a day or two of taking photographs and analyzing the situation, the two-person IAB team returned to the jail and told Olmsted not to pursue the matter. Their reasoning, he said, was that they had determined that the graffiti had been present for at least six months.

“Now, because this is a violation of policy,” said Olmsted, “everyone who’d walked into 3100—every deputy, every sergeant and every lieutenant who’d walked and out of the control booth and not reported it—would have to be investigated.”

The IAB officers recommend that Olmsted have the room cleaned up, put everyone on notice, but “write this one off” and start over.

Olmsted wasn’t pleased, but after running the decision by his superior officer, he did as was suggested, and let the matter go.

Olmsted also told how constructive interactions with inmates got subverted. When he complimented one deputy for showing a room full of inmates a movie on DVD, which had a measurable calming effect on the men, the very next day the TV connecting cord for the DVD player had been cut—clearly by other deputies—thus effectively ending the movie viewing.

But when Olmsted put his foot down and rectified the situation, deputy who had been showing the films approached him, his expression uncomfortable.

“Please don’t come talk to me any more,” Olmsted said the man told him. “I want to make this stuff work, but I’m getting pressure from my peers. They don’t like the fact that I’m talking to you because they think I’m snitching.

Nevertheless, Olmsted told the commissioners, he continued to set down firm rules regarding force and its use, put confident sergeants into key places, and flooded problem areas of the jail with supervisors. At the same time found out what tools the deputies lacked to do their jobs well, and made sure they were actively supplied.

And after a while, the force numbers in CJ started to go down.


THE CAPTAIN BECOMES A COMMANDER

In April 2008, after he had been captain of CJ for about 15 months, Olmsted was promoted to Commander of all the Southern jails. Dan Cruz was tapped by Mr. Tanaka to move into Olmsted’s place as head of Men’s Central Jail—nevermind that Tanaka was no longer the Assistant Sheriff in charge of custody, but had now moved over to supervising patrol.

When he became a commander, Olmsted was still Cruz’s direct superior. However, once Cruz was in charge of CJ, Olmsted said, his relationship with the man changed “significantly.”

“He refused to cooperate. He refused to communicate,” Olmsted told the commission in response to Richard Drooyan’s questions. “I was getting phone calls from people working the jails, saying ‘you’ve got to look into this. You’ve got to look into that.” The alarmed phone calls were nearly always about problems with use of force, Olmsted said.

In one memorable incident Olmsted got a report that a paraplegic had his orbital broken by a deputy. “I mean this guy can’t even walk.” So, how did this happen? Olmsted wanted to know. “Dan Cruz told me everything was fine. That it was ‘good force.” I said, it didn’t sound to me like it was an appropriate use of force.”

But instead of investigating the incident, Olmsted said, “Dan was more interested in finding out who the leak was.” He wanted to know how Olmsted—his commanding officer—had found out about the incident.

When asked for other examples of force, Olmsted shook his head.

“There was a ton of force, off duty, on duty. I don’t know where to begin.”

Moreover, the spike in force incidents was primarily in the area of “significant force,” Olmsted explained— a broken bone or a head strike.

But the behavior didn’t stop with force. The TVs for inmate film screening that Olmsted had mandated be put up in the rec rooms because the policy seemed to improve morale, were taken down. “Dan said he didn’t want to do it.” Olmsted insisted, that Cruz comply, and got nothing but resistance.

Olmsted also began getting complaints from the clergy-–pastors and a lay Catholic sister who’d worked the jails for years. Now however, when they’d went into the cell blocks to visit inmates, deputies would not let them out again when they were read to leave, but instead left the pastors locked on a row for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, sometimes for as along as hour and a half, Olmsted told the commissioners. It didn’t matter that the guards who had the power to open the sally ports were often sitting in control booths a few feet away.

Olmsted said he had no doubt that the actions were punitive.

“See, the clergy is an absolute essential element within the custody facility,” he said. They help us; they help the inmates. It’s a win/win situation.”

Under Cruz, he said, “Suddenly [the clergy] were the enemy.”

The complaints from those working the jail kept coming. And the significant force reports continued to spike. And Captain Dan Cruz continued to be unresponsive to most of Olmsted’s requests, unless they were framed as direct order.


LET HIM FAIL

In the beginning, Olmsted said, he didn’t want to come down on Cruz too hard. But when all his normal supervisory tactics failed to have an effect, Olmsted reported the problem to his boss, Chief Dennis Burns, who basically waved Olmsted’s concerns away. “It’s Men’s Central Jail.” Burns said. “You can’t change the culture. Let [Dan Cruz] fail.”

Olmsted pushed Burns on the issue. The let-him-fail idea was untenable, he said. There were real world consequences here. Inmates were being seriously injured. This also meant that deputies were being allowed to act in such a way that could be ruinous to their careers, if they were caught.

“I looked at [Burns], and I said ‘You can’t let this captain fail, because if he fails, I fail. You fail. We can’t allow that! My edict from day one as a supervisor is that nobody on my watch gets killed, hurt, sued, or triggers an investigation against them. Because if any of those things occur, then I failed somehow in the process.”

In short, “To allow a captain to fail is absolutely, totally ludicrous!”

After several such go-rounds with Burns failed to resolve the matter, Olmsted reluctantly agreed to back off for a few months in the hope that Cruz would get his feet under him and right himself.

Cruz remained intransigent.

Olmsted returned to Burns. “I said, ‘Boss this isn’t right.’” Olmsted then respectfully told Chief Burns that he was going over his head to the new Assistant Sheriff in charge of custody, Marvin Cavanaugh.


THE SHADOW DECIDER

Olmsted came prepared for his meeting with Cavanaugh. “I brought a stack of documentation, three or four inches high.”

For nearly two hours he laid out the situation. “I told Mr. Cavanaugh, ‘We’ve got morale issues, we’ve got force issues, I’ve got non-compliance with the captain who won’t respond [to orders]….I told him about the beatings that were occurring, the high spike of broken bones that were occurring.”

Olmsted told he had done everything that was in his power, but he was not being supported by his own direct superior, Chief Burns. “Then I told him that I thought the reason [for the lack of support] is that Dan Cruz is protected by Paul Tanaka.”

When Olmsted finished, Cavanaugh cut quickly to the chase.

“He said, ‘I can’t help you,’” Olmsted told the commission. “I looked at him. ‘Why not? This is your side of the shop.’

It was then that Olmsted had an epiphany about why none of his own bosses would back his play, which Cavanaugh confirmed a few moments later:

“Every time I have a disagreement with Mr. Tanaka,” Cavanaugh told Olmsted, “Mr. Tanaka goes to Mr. Waldie. (Larry Waldie was, at that time, the undersheriff.). And Mr. Waldie sides with Mr. Tanaka. Now it’s two against one,” said the assistant sheriff. “I never get anything that I want accomplished unless it’s in agreement with Mr. Tanaka.”

“I was dumbfounded,” said Olmsted. “To me that’s the antithesis of what leadership is about.”


THE REPORTS

Olmsted understood that he was on his own. His two immediate superiors were intimidated by Mr. Tanaka, so declined to support him. And Dan Cruz, didn’t believe he had to take orders from him, because of Mr. Tanaka’s protection.

Under normal circumstances, with a recalcitrant subordinate, Olmsted would have nicely but firmly laid down the law. But because of the Tanaka factor, normal circumstances didn’t apply.

So, as significant force continued to rise, Olmsted began to take matters into his own hands.

In November of ’09, Olmsted asked one of his lieutenants, a man named Steven Smith, to do a couple of reports, copies of which were distributed to the commissioners.

For the first report, Olmsted asked Lt. Smith to find the highest users of force in Men’s Central Jail. Smith came back with a list of five or six people who used force an astonishing number of times, seemingly without any consequence.

Out of that list, he asked Smith to then find all the deputies who had used force more than 10 times in 2 years. Smith came back with the names of 42 deputies, many with 18 and 19 force incidents.

“The intent was,” he told the commission, “to identify who the heavy users [of force] are, and train them differently. “

In looking at the numbers, Olmsted felt it would be helpful to rotate the high force-using deputies to other posts in. But job rotation was, of course, out of the question, because of Tanaka’s dictate.

In an effort to deconstruct the force problems further, Olmsted called the operations lieutenant at CJ, and asked him to pull 30 force reports purely at random, and then to start looking for some commonality. “Let’s see what we can do to nip this in the bud,” he said he told the lieutenant.

“He called me back a week and a half later and he said, ‘Boss, you ain’t going to believe this. Eighteen of these reports are out of policy.’ “

Olmsted couldn’t believe it. That meant that two-thirds of these randomly yanked force reports had something wrong with them. Although it was hardly a scientific sampling, it strongly suggested that some staggering number of all the force reports—as many as 2/3 of the total— could be out of policy.

But it was worse than that, Olmsted explained to the commission. Every one of the 18 had been approved as being just fine by a sergeant operating under Cruz. “A certain number were approved by a sergeant and a lieutenant,” he said. “And four of these 18,” he said, “were approved by a sergeant, a lieutenant and a captain, as being appropriate!”

The captain would have been Cruz, of course.

To make sure he wasn’t missing something that would explain what appeared to be a widespread pattern of deliberately looking the other way in the face of problematic uses of force, Olmsted took the reports to several colleagues, who agreed that, yes, these 18 were definitely out of policy. Olmsted then went to Chief Burns and told him about what he’d found. “I took [the reports} to anybody who’d look at them,” he said.

Finally, after much pestering, Assistant Sheriff Cavanaugh managed to get Olmsted a hearing with Tanaka---who should not have been calling the shots for custody at all, but clearly he was.

After Olmsted presented his stack of documentation to Tanaka, the undersheriff reportedly blew up. “I’m going to find out if you’re the problem or if Dan Cruz is the problem,” he roared to Olmsted. To this end, Tanaka sent his close aide Lt. Duane Harris, to investigate. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this!” Tanaka reportedly thundered. “I’m going to send my lieutenant over there to see what’s going on.”

According to Olmsted, Harris interviewed about 30 people of various ranks in the jail. Ten days later came back with some definitive conclusions. “He said 100 percent of the problem was Dan Cruz’s failure to get a handle on the problems at Men’s Central Jail.”

Olmsted said that Tanaka, to his credit, apologized for shouting at him previously and for publicly calling the commander out for failures that belonged only to Tanaka’s own over-protected captain.

But then the Assistant Sheriff did something that seemed to negate everything that had come before.

“He said, ‘I’m going to send Harris down there. He’s going to be the new operations lieutenant with Dan Cruz. What’s going to happen, is you’re going to sandwich Dan Cruz between the two of you. Duane [Harris} is going to run the place. And you’re going to oversee everything….with Dan Cruz in the middle.’”

And the reason for this sandwich strategy?

“The two of you are going to make him a viable candidate for commander.”

“I was a bit startled,” Olmsted told the commissioners with supreme understatement.

“[Tanaka] stared at me and said, ‘We’re going to promote Cruz to commander and you’re doing to do whatever you can to get him promoted.”

As it happened, fate intervened and the promotion never occurred.


“LIFE’S TOO SHORT”

For the next two or three months, Olmsted said, he and Harris followed Tanaka’s directive and did what they could to make Cruz appear to be a success. The strategy was simple: when Olmsted wanted something accomplished, he simply bypassed Cruz and went to Harris, as if the operations lieutenant were the real head of Men’s Central Jail.

“He was a very reasoned, very hands-on supervisor and indentified the things that needed to be done. We worked well together.”

But then, after three months of making progress in cleaning up the mess that was CJ, in July of 2010, Olmsted’s home life went into crisis, and he put in for an emergency leave from the department.

“I had a very personal issue that occurred,” he explained to the commissioners.

What Olmsted did not explain to the commission is that the “personal issue” was the terrible fact that his wife was dying of cancer. He went on leave to be with her.

When Olmsted’s wife died in August, the commander found that something fundamental had shifted inside him, and to the surprise of his colleagues, Commander Robert Olmsted announced that he was going to retire from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department that he had always loved.

“I had 33 years. It was enough. Life’s too short. I couldn’t go back.”

Even as he coped with heartbreak at home, Olmsted worried about all that remained broken and undone at CJ. He thought maybe he should give the matter one last try. Olmsted told the commission that when he happened to run into Sheriff Baca at an LASD event in which they both participated, he drew the sheriff aside and said he needed to talk to him about the jails, that there were serious problems that no one was addressing, but that could be fixed if someone would pay attention, that all he needed was a little of the sheriff’s time. Baca was occupied in the moment, but assured Olmsted he would make sure to set up a meeting.

Baca did not follow through and Olmsted officially retired from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department at the end of November 2010.

“I left the department feeling that I’d done everything I could,” Olmsted told the commission. “I went to my boss, my boss’s boss. I want to Mr. Tanaka. I went to the sheriff. Nobody wanted to listen. I realized I was butting my head up against the wall. So, I thought, I’m tired. There were too many deaths. I’m done. I’m getting old, I’d had enough. ”

And then the incident at the Quiet Cannon occurred.


THE CHRISTMAS PARTY

It happened late on the night of December 9, less than two weeks after Olmsted’s official exit from the department. A group of Men’s Central Jail deputies and supervisors attended a Christmas party at a Montebello banquet hall called the Quiet Cannon. Dan Cruz was one of two senior supervisors present at the party and due to his position at CJ, the one who was in charge.

Around midnight, an argument broke out between two groups of deputies that, when it spilled into the restaurant parking lot, turned into an ugly brawl in which six 3000 floor deputies assaulted two deputies who worked elsewhere in the jail, the six punching and kicking the outnumbered two. When a third deputy, a woman, tried to intervene, she was punched in the face for her trouble.

After the fight got out of hand, someone called the Montebello police and officers showed up to investigate. It was Cruz who reportedly headed off the Montebello cops, telling them that it was a “Code 4,” no big deal, nothing to see here. The sheriffs would handle it, he said.

[WitnessLA reported on the incident here.]

“He’s a Sheriff’s Department Captain,” Lt. Michael Bergman of the Montebello PD told WLA. “So when our sergeant saw no obvious victims, and the supervising officer says, ‘We’ve got a handle on this,’ we took his word for it.”

But a few days later, the two LASD deputies who’d been beat up, contacted the Montebello PD, said Bergman. “They said, ‘We were at the party, we were the victims, we want to file a crime report, and we want to fully cooperate.’”

(Ironically, the report that deputies had been beating on other sheriff’s department deputies in a public place seemed to accomplish what assaults on inmates by CJ deputies did not: in late March 2011, Michael Gennaco of the Office of Independent Review told the NY Times that the department planned a regular rotation of duty assignments at the jail to help prevent such deputy [cliques] from forming in the future—a nearly identical strategy to that of John Clark’s that had so enraged Paul Tanaka.)

Olmsted, heard about the debacle from his next door neighbor.

“My neighbor came over and said, ‘Hey, I hear your deputies are getting in fights.’”

“Yeah, yeah, they’re always getting in fights,” he said he replied.

“No,” said the neighbor, “they got into fights with each other”

Olmsted made a few calls and learned the rest of the details. The fight was over a policy. One group was trying to get the inmates to have more visits from family and friends. The other group, the 3000 boys, Olmsted said, “didn’t want to do things the right way.”


THE COMMANDER TALKS TO THE SHERIFF

Olmsted had been trying to settle into retirement, but he said he lost sleep over the incident. “Literally, three, four days of sleep.”

At around day five, Olmsted ran into Sheriff Baca at a holiday party. “Every year I do a Christmas event with the sheriff,” he told the commission. “It’s always the last Sunday before Christmas. And, I thought, ‘Well, I need to try to talk to him one more time.’”

Olmsted collared Baca. “I said, ‘Sheriff, I need to talk to you about what’s going on [at CJ]. I can tell you how the fight occurred, why it occurred and how to make sure it never happens again. Men’s Central Jail is going south. You need to work with me on this.’ I said, ‘Give me some time after this event and we can talk about his.’”

The sheriff again promised he would sit down with Olmsted right after the event was finished. But again he either dodged or simply forgot.

However, when the news of the Christmas incident began hitting the papers, producing a flurry of unpleasant press, an aide from Baca’s office called Olmsted and asked if the commander had any thoughts on the Quiet Cannon matter. Olmsted said, yes, he did, but to lay out what he suggested, he would need at a minimum an hour “of the sheriff’s valuable time.”

No problem, the aide assured him and a date was set for the 60-minute meeting. But, when the appointed day arrived, Baca was running late and the hour turned into ten minutes. Olmsted told the commission he made the best of his time. “I gave my thoughts to the sheriff about what was going on with Mr. Tanaka and how to fix Men’s Central Jail.

One of the things Olmsted said he told the sheriff is how his assistant sheriff, soon to be the undersheriff, was unofficially holding the reins of the sheriff’s department, and that it was part of the problem at CJ.

“I said, ‘Hey, boss, do an informal survey in the department. Have your aides ask around and find out how you get promoted in the department, informally. Not the formal civil service process.’ But how do you get promoted informally, how does it work? Here’s what they’re going to tell you,’ Olmsted said. “’They’re going to say that you have to give a campaign contributions to Mr. Tanaka. You’ve got to smoke cigars with Mr. Tanaka. You’ve got to go to the City View Restaurant with Mr. Tanaka. You’ve got to belong to the cigar club with Mr. Tanaka…. “

Olmsted said he also told the sheriff about “all the inappropriate cronyism, as I call it, all because of allegiance to Tanaka.”

“I said, ‘Boss, it’s all Tanaka. It ain’t Baca. It’s Tanaka! Your name is nowhere on any of this.’

Olmsted described how the sheriff then turned to him. “He said, ‘You’re right. Sometimes I need to hip check him every once in a while.’”

Olmsted was dismayed. “ I thought to myself, ‘Forget hip checking! You need to put this guy in the penalty box.”

The commissioners seemed captivated by the story, which was a far different level of information than they’d heard from a department source before, particularly a commander of Olmsted’s obvious standing who appeared to have no discernable ax to grind.

After the 10 minutes were up, Olmsted said Baca asked him to walk with him over to the jail, during which time was able to squeeze in a bit more discussion about the problems at CJ and what to do about them. At the end of their time together, Baca asked Olmsted if he was willing to come back to work for the department. “Sure, I’ll come back,” Olmsted told the commissioners he said originally.

But then he slept on the decision and decided that, while tempted, he was going to turn the offer down. “As much as I was flattered, and I’d like to do it, I realized same barriers were in place that created the problem, and I was not going to put myself back into that environment.”


THE JUMP OUT BOYS

At this point, Olmsted’s initial testimony was pretty much finished, but the commissioners had questions

Commissioner Alex Busansky wanted to know about the reports of deputy gangs outside the jails, like the Jump Out Boys, whose existence had been recently reported by the LA Times. Did Olmsted know of instances where problematic behavior was bleeding from the jails into patrol? Busansky asked. “Do you see any evidence of that kind of taking pride in the use of force?”

It didn’t surprise him, Olmsted said. “Let me preface this by saying that 95 percent of the men and women on the sheriff’s department are outstanding, ethical, hardworking, really great people who just want to do their jobs. They go into the academy and they raise their right hand and swear to uphold the Constitution.

“Then we assign them to the jail where, if they get to the wrong T.O. [training officer], and get sucked up into the negative environment. Or they get into the 3000 boys or the 2000 boys. Now we have inculcated them into this negative culture that everyone on the department from the Chief [of custody] to the Assistant Sheriff”—meaning Cavanaugh—-“told me personally we can’t change.

Olmsted’s voice rose in intensity. “Yes, we can change the culture. We have to change the culture.” A pause. “But to answer the question, if deputies are indoctrinated in this negative jail setting early on, it does not surprise me if it spills over into patrol.”

In fact he was hearing ongoing stories about incidents, he said. “I have people calling me from different stations who say… there are issues going on.

“But they’re afraid to come out and say things about it. “


EARN YOUR INK

Following up on Busansky’s line of questioning, the Commission’s executive director, Miriam Krinsky, asked if Olmsted had ever heard the term, “earn your ink.”

Olmsted nodded, yes, he had.

“I was a commander at the time. When significant force was going up, I told Captain Cruz that I wanted to see every report where significant force occurred in Men’s Central Jail.

“There was one particular report that stood out in my mind. The inmate was interviewed, and he said, ‘I was up against the wall. I had my hands behind my back. Then one deputy said to the other deputy, “Are you ready to earn your ink?” And then, boom! All of a sudden they busted his orbital. “ (The orbital being the eye socket.)

“And I’m thinking, what the hell does ‘earn your ink” mean? Then I started asking a around. People said, ‘Oh, you don’t know? The 2000 Boys have a Roman Numeral II tattooed on the back of their calf. And that’s how you earn your ink, by busting somebody’s head.’”

At this last, the commission members, who had listened to all of Olmsted’s testimony with unusual intensity, lapsed into a thoughtful silence—except for Reverend Murray, who shook his head slightly.

“Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmmm.” Murray, murmured sadly, his expression of dismay not meant for the microphone, which picked it up anyway.


CRONYISM AND PAY TO PLAY

After Busansky’s questions, Judge Robert Bonner asked a string of his own. Among other things, he wanted to know about the informal system of promotions that Olmsted had mentioned.

“You have suggested that there may be a degree of cronyism that comes into play in terms of how people are promoted within the LA Sheriff’s Department,” Bonner began cautiously. “I don’t want to mischaracterize your testimony, so disabuse me if I got this wrong. But certainly your description of Mr. Cruz suggests that he might have been somebody who was going to be promoted not necessarily on merit, but because of he was in good favor with now Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. Am I mischaracterizing your testimony? Is that what you’re saying?

Olmsted didn’t hesitate.

“No. You hit the nail on the head.” Olmsted said, then related to Bonner a story that Captain Mike Bornman would confirm a month later when he testified before the commission in early July.. It concerned Dan Cruz telling a mutual friend that, “I don’t work for f-ing Olmsted, and I don’t work for [Chief ] Burns. I work directly for Paul Tanaka! Screw them!”

“I heard this was said [by Cruz] several times in several arenas, to several different people, but this time it meant me personally,” said Olmsted to Bonner.

Bonner continued to push. “Within the sheriff’s department, how far does this…cronyism…..how far down does it go?” he asked. What’s your sense of that?”

Olmsted nodded, indicating that he had understood. “It goes all the way down to the rank of deputy,” said Olmsted “Because we’re not just talking about promotion, we’re talking about coveted assignments, as well. If you donate to his [Tanaka’s] campaign for mayor or city council and solicit monies, that to me is inappropriate. If you belong to a cigar club with a numbered, serialized cigar coin that’s given to you as one of the boys, that’s inappropriate. It bodes of Tammany Hall in the old days with Boss Tweed. Civil Service is there for a reason and needs to be abided by.

Bonner did not let the matter drop.

“It’s a pretty serious allegation,” he said. “So I want to make sure I understand if you’re making it or not. Because I’m going to ask you what evidence you have to support it.

“It seems to me you’re suggesting that people within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who help raise money for Mr. Tanaka’s political situation—-I say that because I understand he might be mayor of Gardena, and I assume that’s an elected position—You seem to be suggesting, that there are sheriff;s deputies who have gotten promotions because they have curried favor with Mr. Tanaka and the political aspects of his career that have nothing to do, per se, with the sheriff’s department. Are you making that assertion here?

Olmsted: “Yes I am.”

Bonner: What evidence could you point us to that would back that up?

Olmsted: “If you take a look at the campaign contributions through The Public Records Act and see the people who donate, how they donate, where it goes, and then take a look at those who get promoted, you’ll see there’s a promotional process that’s done informally where they get rewarded for participating in that aspect. The cigar club is established on our computer system as an “executive staff group.’ Well, “executive” in our department is captain and above. But if you take a look at the people in this “executive staff grouping” it’s deputies, sergeants, lieutenants, captains and commanders, and Mr. Tanaka. All these are the individuals who have blind loyalty to Mr. Tanaka and who carry around the secret coin. I’ve got those documents.”

He mentioned a few other examples, like statistical analysis that one department member has done about of the increased likelihood of getting promoted if one has given to Tanaka’s political campaign. “All this may not be considered conclusive,” Olmsted told Bonner. “But why even open that door and allow it?”


WHO SHOULD STAY AND WHO SHOULD GO?

As the commissioners wound down their questions, Alex Busansky asked one last zinger. Before springing his potentially news-making question on Olmsted, Busansky wound up carefully for the throw:

“One of the themes you’ve talked about is the importance of leadership,” Busansky began, “the importance of supervision. And I know that in a press a number of months ago, Sheriff Baca was asked about you, and he commended you and your service, but he also said, ‘I’m not needed to make a change. Mr. Olmsted could have done it himself.’

“So when you look at the current leadership in the sheriff’s department, Mr. Tanaka’s still there, and some of the others who you’ve mentioned in your testimony here today are still there. Is change possible while those individuals remain in their positions?”

The chamber went dead silent, but Olmsted did not pause for even a beat.

“Absolutely not, “he said.

There it was.

“And let me tell you,” the commander continued, “the sheriff is absolutely right. ‘Olmsted’ could have done it. And you know something? I’m doing it. If he’s not going to take it on, and Tanaka is not going to take it on, and the other top four are not going to take it on, then I’ll take it on and I’ll go outside the department to do it.” Which is what he has done, of course, by talking to us and to the LA Times. “I’m being second guessed for it, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Olmsted took a breath. “Leadership stops at the top. The Sheriff needs to take this one. There was an outstanding editorial in the LA Times saying if this happened on Bratton’s watch, he would have lopped off heads.

[Actually it was a WitnessLA commentary, not the LA Times, but no matter.]

“Well, I challenged the sheriff with all the embarrassing stuff that’s going on in the department that we all love, Why should we have the 3000 Boys, and the 2000 Boys, and the Jump Out Boys, Why do we need a sergeant pointing a gun to another sergeant? This is embarrassing to the sheriff’s department. I could go on and on. It’s got to come from the top, and if it’s not going to change, then in my opinion—-I love the sheriff dearly—but the top four need to go. “

When the commander hasd finally finished speaking, a couple of commissioners actually applauded him spontaneously before they got a more dignified grip on themselves, and one of the group said under his breath, “Bravo!”

I spoke to Olmsted not too long after his testimony, and he told me there was one thing he forgot to say to the commission. It had to do with something that Tanaka told him at the meeting when the under had announced he intended to make Dan Cruz a commander.

Olmsted said that Tanaka told him that the reason he needed to ensure that the “right” people were in supervisory positions, was so that they were in place when he, Tanaka, became sheriff. “He said Waldie (who was then the undersheriff) Cavanaugh and the Sheriff are all old, and that they would be retiring very soon, and he expected to hold the position after Sheriff Baca, “for the next fifteen years.”

Everything we have heard suggests that, even after all that has happened, the undersheriff still believes he is the Fortunate Son who will succeed Baca.


POST SCRIPT: As long as this is narrative is, there is still much left out. So for the podcast go here.


Photo by WitnessLA

Posted in jail, LA County Board of Supervisors, LA County Jail, LASD, Sheriff Lee Baca | 56 Comments »

56 Responses

  1. News Flash Says:

    WOW !!!!! Bravo, Olmsted. You said what we have all known for years. But according to last week’s testimony from Tanaka, you are a liar.

  2. All lack God Says:

    ….Gone are the days…..when men were men….even if these disloyal rats who are testifying get their way…a new breed of evil will lead. .Please cut the lights out on this show. .Its gotten old…

  3. Train has Derailed Says:

    Good point Celeste. Why don’t u ask the Sheriff or spokeshole Whitmore if they are going to do an investigation on the active members of the Department who testified in front of the commission for lying. Either they did, or Tanaka did. Can’t have it both ways. The Sheriff should also ask the “Commission” for the Federal Officers names who Tanaka also called a “liar” The investigation should be done by the OIR or outside entity as Department members should not be put in a position to interview Tanaka.

    The Sheriff keeps saying to move forward but to much has been thrown out and we deserve to know who lied. All involved in this are “Brass” and how do we now listen to any of them with this cloud of truthfulness hanging out there. As a reporter Celeste, please get a response and publish it. If the Sheriff refuses, then you know Tanaka is lying. You can take it to the bank if the others lied they would be relieved of duty by now. To my knowledge they are all working.

  4. Answering The Question Says:

    Two statements that should show any unbiased observer that the Sheriff had better things to do than deal with was happening at CJ.

    The sheriff again promised he would sit down with Olmsted right after the event was finished. But again he either dodged or simply forgot.

    But, when the appointed day arrived, Baca was running late and the hour turned into ten minutes.

    Kinda puts that “I didn’t know but now I know” response from the Sheriff in a whole new light doesn’t it. If he didn’t know, it’s because he either didn’t want to know or he had so many other things on his mind of a higher priority to him that he “forgot”.
    There’s no other explanation.

    Looks like the Sheriff was too busy being an ambassador to the world or hobnobbing/politicking to make what was happening in his department a top priority. 50 minutes of Olmstead’s hour were taken up by other things. I wonder how those things that were more important to the Sheriff that day measure up now. It’s all about priorities. It appears his have been messed up for awhile.
    If this commission dog and pony show does nothing else, at least it made the Sheriff make the the day to day functioning of the LASD a top priority, even if only for a little while.

    Or, Olmstead is making all of this up and he’s a liar.
    My guess is the commission believes him.

  5. FURTHER TO FOLLOW Says:

    I know Bob, worked on a couple of assignments with him, and I can assure you, no one wants to go through all this and have to air all the Department’s dirty laundry.

    I believe in what Bob says, he has no axe to grind. He is stepping up to represent us all and even the one’s who don’t have the moral turpitude to do the same.

    Great job Mr. Bob O.

  6. Robert Peel Says:

    I too have worked with Bob at many assignments and I know his family and he knows mine. In all those years I have NEVER known Bob to lie, cheat, steal or give a hint of misconduct. In comparison, I too have worked with Tanaka and Tanaka is the EXACT opposite of Bob. In fact, one cannot and should not compare these two together. I witnessed Tanaka’s testimony and only a buffoon would believe Tanaka’s story! I agree with other blogs that either all these folks are lying or Tanaka is lying. Baca cannot have it both ways! Lying during an investigation is a termination offense (isn’t that right Sue?) I spoke to Bob just before he retired and we discussed many issues of the day. I don’t know if anything I said that day helped Bob make his decision or help him along but a special note to you,Bob.I am humbled that you call me a friend!

    Lastly, now Chief McWeeny lied to protect a deputy who lied about an arrest. I guess McWeeny’s chances of being sheriff are no longer possible! Good!

  7. Mike the Saint Says:

    God bless you Bob Olmstead. You are a stand up man who truly cares. You tried to help the sheriff but he doesn’t care. All he cares about is creating an illusion.

    To the sheriff’s credit he was honest to the commission. A little to honest to his detriment. Not only did he call out the commission with his infamous “don’t elect me” crack, he called out all of the citizens of L.A. County who the CCJV represent. With his retorts he is telling the CCJV and the Board, to hell with their recommendations.

    Sheriff, you may be surrounded by your yes-men who tell you the fine silk clothes Mr. Tanaka weaved you look great. But when you speak to ALL of us who make this department run, and you see those faces who are staring back at you oddly, it is because we see through you and see your nakedness. Bob is the true leader and out of respect wouldn’t say this to you….I’ll say it for him….told you so.

  8. Left at the Ball Says:

    So this all ends with Mr T saying he did not know, Olmsted calling people liars, and us sitting back asking our self what was it for?
    As always the higher up you go, the lower the accountability factor becomes.
    Surely everyone saw what I saw on Friday, embarrassing.
    Mr. Olmsted thanks for your integrity if not for anything else.
    We have done our laundry in public, it is folded now someone will pick it up and move on to the next load.

  9. Mike the Saint Says:

    Yes, Tanaka testilied his ass off. He fooled the sheriff and himself. But why didn’t. Cavanaugh testify?? Seems to me he has some very pertinent information to share.

  10. in the know Says:

    CRONYISM AND PAY TO PLAY, I can’t believe the commission is still questioning if there was and is a pay to play. Should we just start posting the name of those who paid then got promoted so they have the proof? While we are at it, add the names of the cigar club, coin holding members and see how many of them have received promotions.
    Ask the Sherriff why Cruz is still getting paid while he is relieved of duty? More money for his retirement or are they going to bring him back, with a promotion?

  11. Robert Peel Says:

    Mike: As we know all these guys it has been disappointing (for me at least) to watch men I know cowl down so much! Why didn’t any of the current regime, or past, come forward and testify in support of the so-called sheriff? I suppose that any integrity they may have left keeps them from lying as these lies may put them in jail. All men, at times, fail to do their job. But, this was a time that history will not be kind to the cowards that ran away from their Oath of Office.

  12. retired96 Says:

    I thought Tanaka was supposed to be highly educated,, after listening to his testimony, I came to the conclusion he has the memory of a ant… Tanaka turn in your badge and retire…

  13. Huh! Says:

    What? The Executive Staff Group of which Mr. Olmstead referrenced has suddenly disappeared. If that isn’t guilty “criminal like” mentality I don’t know what is.

  14. No Mercy for Tyrants Says:

    Who’s great idea was it to have the 300+ leg humpers in attendance to circle the wagons. Wonder how many of them were strong armed into attending

  15. News Flash Says:

    I received a phone call on Thursday night telling me it had been organized. In my opinion, it showed nothing more to the Commission that the Cigar Club and Pay for Play crowd is not a rumor, but in fact, alive and well and everything connected and spoke about during testimony is true. It was put on full display for all to see. I’m surprised the crowd hadn’t lit up some cigars in the auditorium and started blowing smoke rings.

    A very misguided idea, just as much as the Two Minute Club speakers at the end of the day were. I sensed the Commission did not buy any of it. Overall, pathetic, very amateurish, juvenile and embarrassing. It was all for Paul.

  16. No Mercy for Tyrants Says:

    You are spot on new flash. Lee and Paul put on a fantastic show for the cigar club donors. But the commission wasn’t impressed. They looked around the auditorium and commented, “who’s patrolling the streets? I hope they are on vacation time!” The bootlickers made a big hit. I saw quite a few cringe when the Don was wrung through the wringer. Not a good sign when a question is prefaced by “is it your testimony?” Paul stood up for Dan as much as it pained him to do so. We’ll see if Dan does the same for Paul when the feds get him in the beat up room. I bet Dan throws up all over him.

  17. LATBG Says:

    As the wheels start falling off the wagon, based on the testimony offered by Olmstead and what has already widely been reported, there is a major crisis of leadership on hand. With pay to play supervisors, managers, and executives all appointed and carefully placed by Tanaka, the damage to the integrity and effectiveness of the organization is breathtaking.

    This means there are a lot of individuals who achieved their rank fraudulently and are in positions which they lack the skill set to perform competently. Decision making is pushed higher up the chain, concentrated in fewer and fewer hands until it lands in Tall Paul’s lap by design.

    How many outstanding supervisors and managers have given up and walked away rather than pay to play? How many ops sergeants and ops lieutenants have to do all the work of their direct report in order to mask their incompetence?

    Mark my words, the damage is not limited to use of force in custody environments. Follow the money to every contract we are involved in with legal services, vendors, you name it. Match the campaign contributions with the vendor’s business or business owner, family, even the family dog. The helicopter purchase, with the alleged $11 million still missing, is the tip of the iceberg.

    When you get tired of looking at pay to play action, you can then move on to enforcement activities, or selective enforcement activities and look the other way activities. You can start with massage parlors in the San Gabriel Valley as a warmup.

    For the dwindling number of cheerleaders left posting on this site, you probably believe all those lieutenants aced their tests, and the little man with a big ego “hand picked” them to lead specialized units because of their stellar backgrounds and his unique ability to perceive talent where others see none.

    The Tanaka master plan to nowhere.

  18. in the know Says:

    “The club members”. There should be an investigation to find out who was part of the crowd in attendance when they should have been working. Isn’t that called abandoning your post? How much did that cost the department? They get to leave work and we have to carp their spot? Despicable! By the way, who has the cellphone pictures of the group?

  19. InterestedParty Says:

    Re: LATBG’s post – Spot on!

    Club members attending the hearing, en masse, on-duty, is emblematic of the duality in the department during the Baca/Tanaka era. The Manual of Policy and Procedures, sections from which are cited for allegations to initiate administrative investigations and if deemed founded, in meting out disciline to personnel, does not apply to Cigar Club Coin minions!

  20. Robert Peel Says:

    I saw Baca yesterday. I noted he was talking to himself! Too many moonbeams LOL

  21. figures Says:

    AND THE HATERS CONTINUE TO HATE….

  22. Huh! Says:

    @”figures” (comment 21). You are obviously loyal to the Tanaka camp, but is that the best comment you have. No explanation? No reasonable twist? That’s like calling all law enforcement “haters” because we take criminals who are living the good life to jail. If it’s wrong then it’s wrong! The way the department is currently functioning is wrong. People who have finally had enough aren’t “haters,” for the most part, they are people who can finally speak their mind with no fear of repercussions. We are suppose to be roll models and good leaders (Sheep Dogs), not sheep. How can those of you who follow blindly (for their own agenda) even look at yourselves in the mirror. Has this job only become power and a pay check. Most, if not all of you could not even hold Mr. Olmstead’s war bag (that’s a bag hard working COPS carry when patrolling the streets, in case you didn’t know).

  23. No Mercy for Tyrants Says:

    @Figures, you’re right about one thing. I hate that there is an executive on this department who condones and surrounds himself with those who condone a culture which is not conducive to ethical policing. I hate that the ethical leaders who strive to do the right thing are transferred and sent away from a unit because they were doing what was right for the department. I hate that our leader refuses to fix the problem at its core and instead chooses to window dress. I hate that the promotional process is essentially rigged. I hate that our leaders have failed miserably. I will stop hating when the sheriff does the right thing and starts by holding his number two man accountable for this mess.

  24. FURTHER TO FOLLOW Says:

    Nice one “HUH”. It has been quiet. Maybe cuz I’ve been gone LOL. All you have to do is start with the commander panel, which was crafted to soften the blow. Then you have all the trolls who follow any retirement function where baca or tanaka attend.

    Same lieutenants sitting at the same table and only shaking the hands of the potential promoters.

    What really is puzzling, is most of these people have families and have to support them. Why do any of them want to risk them, their careers and self-esteem, just for the greed of promotion and covering up when asked to.

    I don’t get it now and never will. The puppets in the audience know who they are, you were seen. I wish I could throw out names, but it would serve no purpose.

  25. Robert Peel Says:

    Figures doesn’t know! Too busy hiding in the station!

  26. Banaka's Cheerleaders Cant Catch a Flu on the Streets! Says:

    TO LATBG:
    This entire blog is posting on old news related to Banakas and Caca. For years now, everyone in the LE community knew more or less what was going on at the Mens Central Jail – related to the out of control violence and muscle head cliques. We all knew that Banakas and Caca were ignoring the jail issues and that the bottom feeders were being targeted with IA investigations for opening up their big mouths.
    Now, LATBG, you out of everyone here, has just touched on an issue that is very very sensitive to LASD and calls for a serious internal affair investigation within the department by an outside federal agency. But, no one will come forward to reveal what the FBI will probably find out if they continue digging deep into these individual’s backgrounds and off duty misconduct activities – this agency will have a really big blackeye at the end of the day. However, I’m sure the County Supervisor will stop the dirt from ever reaching the mainstream media and press. We have gotten to the point where we don’t know who are the real criminals-those we arrest or those who run the department.

  27. Shameless Sheriffs Says:

    Do the inmates in L.A. county jail receive immunity for past mis-deeds and crimes?

    Sheriff “El Burro” Baca and his command stafff seem to give themselves immunity for all their incompetance and lies.

    It a shame there was not live television coverage so the voter’s know NOT to re-elect “El Burro” Baca.

  28. The Truth Says:

    Interesting to see what makes it through the WLA Celeste censorship filter. So if I talk badly about current LASD upper management and use derogatory names when specifically referencing Sheriff Baca and Undersheriff Tanaka, will those comments make it WLA postings? I guess I wrongly figured that you might welcome some alternate comments to create some interesting debate which might generate additional comments and website views. If viewing the same dozen or so WLA agenda bandwagon posters is all you you find acceptable then good luck. The other side will just lose interest with your same boring followers.

  29. Don't smoke cigars Says:

    Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch… I hope and I pray that something is actually happening at the Federal level or Ca Attorney General’s Office, as far as investigations go. I do not prefer crickets at this time. They are only a Chinese phenomena, as far as I know. The public deserves the right to know before the next LA County Sheriff’s election. The word, mismanagement, seems to be an understatement. Thank goodness the Board of Supervisors 10-22′d Antonivich’s quest for endless office. Peace, and stay safe…

  30. Celeste Fremon Says:

    EDITOR’S NOTE:

    Dear “The Truth,”

    All debate welcomed. However, if you reread that comment that got trashed, it contained no factual rebuttal, nothing that could be debated, but only generalized mudthrowing. That’s the sort of thing that I try to block. (Admittedly some get through.)

    When you point out specifically what you feel is untrue or counterfactual in a post or a comment and why, that’s far more interesting for all concerned.

    C.

  31. figures Says:

    AND THE HATERS CONTINUE TO HATE…..

  32. Almost at 30 Says:

    I don’t think people are hating, just fed up.
    After Tanaka’s testimony the supporters
    Here have all but disappeared, as even they
    were shocked and disappointed at all of the
    denials in his testimony. Here is a funny
    scenario: What if the media got most of the
    Lt’s test questions the Friday before the test
    and then presented them to the Department
    on Monday. Oh Oh. It would to bad for the
    people who actually studied, but expose what
    is and has been going on

  33. The Public Says:

    What if pigs could fly? What is your point. All of these posts boil down to cops that didn’t get promoted. Go out and do your job and quit complaining. I have never seen such a group of whiners. Of course all of this great wealth of knowledge is passed on anonymously. I hope I never need to call on you to save me. You would have to get out from hiding behind a anonymous computer and identify yourself. Maybe you should cover your names tags at work.

  34. Coyote Waits Says:

    I listened to Tanaka’s testimony (?). Soo, 200 line Deputies who wrote to him all lied, all of his chain of command lied, and everyone who testified obviously lied and has a secret agenda against him. Sounds like a paranoid sociopathic mentality to me. And according to other accounts here, Tanaka has been MIA around the Department, so what’s he been so busy with that he didn’t prepare for his testimony (?) last week? He sounded like Hillary Clinton trying to defend her health care bill in the 90s (the “I don’t recall” defense as a way to avoid taking the 5th). Hey 3000 boys, how’s the bottom of those bus wheels feel? These politicians in uniform are going to abandon all of you to save their own skins. Not one of them will step up and defend you. Call ALADS, get your lawyers, and prepare to defend yourself. Tanaka just told you that you’re on your own, after following his lead. Be nice to the FBI guys and they make make you a witness, instead of a suspect.

  35. The Public Says:

    Quit worrying about why you didn’t get promoted and focus your GED honed mind on the actual testimony. Your boss didn’t say the 200 deputies were liars. He said just the opposite. He said he received 200 e-mail complaints from deputies that said they were being mass punished by the jail commanders because of the actions of a few. That was over 1/3 of the unit. He took immediate action with the jail commanders. Now who do you think has an axe to grind, the deputies or the jail commanders who came to the commission? Mass punishments worked well for a while in Nazi Germany. They are not so popular in the US.

  36. Huh! Says:

    @”figures.”.and the ignorant continue to post comments with no substance!

    @”The public,” What is your point? Don’t pigeon hole everyone on this site as people who didn’t get promoted. Some of us choose not to even take the promotional exam for fear of “having to play the game” and when you don’t your assignement is suddenly twice as far from home “to satisfy the needs of the department.” It’s sad because I know many good hardworking people on this department who have the same mentality, because they refuse to bow down.

    As, far as calling on me to save you, that goes both ways. I have never failed to respond to the needs of the public, but I have oftened let supervisors drown in their ignorance.

    As far as hiding behind a computer, you are exactly right. I have a family and a career to think about. That doesn’t make me or any of us cowards! That makes us smart seasoned veterans, who are aware of the back stabbers on this department. I have spoken my mind plenty of times only to be punished for having an opinion contrary to the “powers that be.” You and the others who are advocates of the wrong doings on the department are the true cowards when you post, because there is no logical reason for you to want to remain anonymous, except that maybe you like to portray yourself in real life as a “fighting the wrongs” kind of guy, but are really a sell out. There was a time when this department would reward Deputies for just being good decision makers, hard workers and staying out of trouble, but now you have to sell your soul, also.

    There is life after this department and with any luck, one day I will be able to stand tall next to Mr. Olmstead.

  37. Getagrip Says:

    Public, it appears as though you may have missed the point; what the Undersheriff did was to barge into MCJ, and acting on incomplete information, chopped the legs out from under the unit commander. In his testimony, Mr. T said he didn’t even realize that he had wrongly assessed the situation, and didn’t realize that the movement of deputies was supposed to take place between same-shift assignments, NOT a rotation of shifts. IF the Undersheriff had bothered to listen to the captain, he would have found this out before neutering yet another supervisor with whom he disagreed. Unfortunately, Mr. T is not someone who is known for his his listening skills… He would much rather curse and rant at people to make his point.

    Am I also the only one who saw a correlation between the Undersheriff disagreeing with someone, and their suspiciously timed midnight transfer? And while we’re at it, what’s up with him not remembering that box of fine cigars he got as a”thank you” present from the deputies? It had to have taken quite a while to smoke so many stogies. Could it be he is an elected official for the city of Gardena, and failure to report such a gift is against the law?

  38. Coyote Waits Says:

    Welcome back, Public! Actually, they didn’t offer GEDs when I graduated from High School, or when I got my two college degrees. Man you obsess on that subject. Must be that fine LAUSD education you got.
    He blamed it on mass punishment, but he knew it was meant to break up cliques that he knew existed and did not want the brass to rock the boat on. He did call deputies liars, and denied ever telling them it was OK to “work the gray”. His immediate action with the jail commanders was to shut them down when they attempted to do their jobs. And I have seen numerous examples of job rotation that work pretty good. LAPD does that with their entire staff, rotating them through job and shift assignments. Seems to work OK. Many Stations do the same thing, and I have seen and done it in custody, also with positive results. The Shift changes are usually negative, but the job assignments are not, they just break up cliques before they get too entrenched, and keep deputies from getting bored with just one assignment. Tanaka is a politician, with his eye on the top spot. He has not been a good manager, and, per your analysis, is underqualified for the job, having only a BS degree in Accounting. And his testimony (?) was questionable at best.

  39. Robert Peel Says:

    Public: I know who you are and you are nowhere near to the street cop that Olmstead was! OK, let’s talk about hiding; come out of the closet and ID yourself! Are you afraid that the Feds will connect you with all the criminal conduct? You and I have known each other for years and I avoid you as much as I can. I don’t know what happened (or how it happened) but you are way off the road you started on. Turn around before it’s too late!

  40. Mountain Man Says:

    Paul: at Neal Tyler’s retirement, you mentioned to several people that you were looking forward to retirement. It’s time. You are almost 55, have over 30 years on; do the math. the percentage, especially at your salary is there.

    Oh, you are a CPA. So you can (and likely done the math).

    It is time to go and let the Department heal.

  41. No Mercy for Tyrants Says:

    Not just Paul, but Lee and Marv as well. Waldie did it. Time to go

  42. PHIL 101 Says:

    Waldie? I had heard that he had no intention on going and that it was his final DUI accident arrest in the palm Springs area that precipitated his decision to retire. Maybe we need some specific enforcement from CHP?

  43. Answering The Question Says:

    Wow. The Public managed to call of you ignorant and Nazi’s at the same time.
    My oh my. He’s so intellectual.
    Too bad he shows his ass so often. He isn’t interested in any type of mature intelligent discussion of the matters being discussed. He simply uses this forum to remind all of you that it only takes a GED to do your job. In doing so, he implies that he’s better than the rest of you. I guess he thinks an educational pedigree is the most important aspect of a law enforcement officer. Of course, he doesn’t want cops compensated commensurate with their education should that become the case.
    His arrogance and self righteousness is there for all to see. It is ony surpassed by his hypocrisy.

  44. retired and glad Says:

    Two people and two people alone are responsible for the current drama, headaches, cover-ups and unethical practices of the L. A. County Sheriff’s Dept. They are responsible for the deterioration of what was one of the best, most proficient, most professional law enforcement agencies in the nation. The number of people that has come and gone through the largest sheriffs department in the world since 1850 can not even be estimated. But the number of people who have managed to destroyed it is simple. Two. Leroy Baca and Paul Tanaka. The number of people who are responsible for hiring most of the personnel who are involed in the described activity is one. Paul Tanaka. People who worked Pre Employement at one time know that first hand. I was proud to be a member of the department for 34 years but I am sure glad I am gone now. One final note, I have known Bob Olmsted for almost 35 years. He is not making this stuff up!

  45. Retired Chief Says:

    Leopards do not change their spots. I worked with Baca years ago and then as well as now it was all abut him. Rather than manage what was once the world’s finest law enforcement agency he spends his time feathering his own nest, traveling and speaking to hear the accolades. He has surrounded himself with yes men and has left the running of the department to a corrupt individual who has no concept of what true leadership is all about.

    I’m retired and do not live in L A County. But I hate to see what the department has become under the current lack of leadership. Were it not for Baca’s political connections DOJ would (and should) be all over the criminality and corruption which tarnishes the agency and is a disservice to the taxpayers of L A County.

    The cure? It certainly won’t be easy and under current law may not even be possible. The top 4 need to go and the BOS needs to appoint someone as Sheriff who will clean house and not tolerate what Baca has allowed and Tanaka has promoted.

    I left LASD years ago in part because of Baca and people of his ilk. It didn’t take rocket science back then to predict that good, honest, ethical, hard nosed but fair law enforcement was going to take a back seat to cronyism and butt kissing. Baca and Tanaka need to go down and go down hard for what they have done to LASD.

  46. retired and glad Says:

    I stand corrected in a earlier writing. A more accurate statement would be,”Unethical practices of SOME members of the L. A. County Sheriff’s Dept.” Because the truth is, the very large majority of the members of the department are still hard working employees with a high standard of morals and work ethic who work within the law and department policy and who are doing a great job. But obviously, a small percentage have neither the maturity nor the common sense to hold the position and do the job. And obviously, the top two members of the department do not have the common sense to act upon information received from another memebr of management who informs them of such serious misconduct. And if Baca and Tanaka is trying to turn this around on Olmsted and blame him for the problems in the jail, and if Olmsted did such a poor job as a captain and commander there, then why did Baca offer him a job after retirement to help clean up the problem??? I know why. Think about it…

  47. C'mon Olmstead Says:

    Bob Olmstead lays out the perfect scenario where he takes no responsibiility for anything. It’s amazing, he took every problem that occurred to a Commander, Chief or Assistant Sheriff and he (Olmstead)complains that nothing was done. Well, Sir, you earned a very nice salary and an even better retirement. Maybe you are just “a little” responsible for what occurred under your command? I have no respect for those who “blow whistles” after they are comfortably retired. Please don’t ever tell me that you can’t make changes at your rank, when I do it daily as a Sergeant. To lay your weakness on the ranks above you is the true “embarrassment to the Sheriff’s Department.” Please go on your way and enjoy your paycheck, stop disrespecting the badge and the Department system that will continue to pay you.

  48. Hey Retired Chief Says:

    Hi Retired Chief,

    You have many thoughts, it would be nice to know your name since you have good ideas on straightening out the Department. Please tell us who you are???? Thanks

  49. Jerry Boyd Says:

    No point in identifying myself. Like many, way back when, I left the Dept because of trends that now have come (unfortunately) to be very manifest. Like at least a dozen others I can name I ultimately became a chief of police…we all, I think, owe that to the excellent foundation and training we received early in our careers with LASD. But seeing that change (not for the better) was on the horizon many of us left based upon our oath of office and principles.

    The cure for what exists is pretty obvious and it doesn’t take me or others like me to spell it out. It takes people with the power to make the needed changes to have the guts to do it for the Department’s sake. There are too many good men and women on the Department who deserve better than the poor leadership they are presently stuck with. And the taxpayers deserve better as well. The Board of Supervisors has the ability to do what it takes, but my money says they won’t nor will a Federal Grand Jury which, at this point, should be investigating the department based on what is public knowledge alone–with much more under the surface I’m sure.

  50. In Real Life Says:

    Hey #47,
    Your theory sounds good. You make changes as a Sergeant daily eh? How many of those decisions have pissed off Baca or Tanaka? How many of the changes you’ve made countermanded or undercut one of the decisions they’ve made, or even gone against the grain of their workplace ideas? You’re talking to cops Slick. Are you really going to tell us with a straight face that you’ve taken on the powers that be, and therefore Olmstead should’ve done the same thing? You haven’t done a fucking thing to piss them off, or we both know you’d be buried at some nothing assignment and your career would be over. Save your machismo righteousness for John Q at the barbecues. It won’t fly among seasoned cops.
    I suppose you think he should’ve told Baca:
    “Listen boss, I don’t give a flying fuck what you’ve got on your agenda, you better make time to give me the hour I need to explain this bs to you”…….as far as Tanaka?
    Let me ask you something Slick. Why do think Tanaka held that deps. only meeting?
    What do you think Pollaro’s response should’ve been when Tanaka told him to sit down and be quiet? Pollaro could’ve come back with: “Who the hell do you think you are talking to me like that. If you aren’t going to address me with respect, YOU sit down and be quiet. Or we can take this out to the parking lot”. Had he done that, where do you think he’d be working now? He’d be ROD for challenging Tanaka to fight.
    But we all know without a doubt that you would have set Tanaka and Baca straight, because you’ve let us all know just how big your balls are.
    “Sell it to the Air Force Mayo”……your bravado and self righteousness won’t sell here.

  51. caca rolls downhill Says:

    C’mon Olmstead
    As a sergeant you should know by now that caca rolls downhill. Maybe you can make it roll uphill, and maybe you as a sergeant can dictate how things roll at your unit. My accolades to you. You are the first guy I’ve ever heard of to openly go against your command staff and make changes to their program without any repercussions. You da man.

  52. Super Israel Says:

    I have been studying the events of the dept for the past several years. After reviewing all testimony available to the public, the problem with the department is obvious. Paul Tanaka. This is a self centered, egotistical maniac depressed sociopath who only has one goal in his career. That goal is his political well being. He has lied throughout his career and continues to do so. I have worked with two of the best individuals who have ever been on the dept.; Sheriff Pitchess and Sheriff Block. Those two would have never allowed an individual such as Tanaka to take down a dept for their own political aspirations. I have known Sheriff Baca for a long time and despite the negativity towards him, I know he can fix things. Eliminate Paul Tanaka and allow a strong supervisor to run the jails and the dept will florish once again. I do not understand how everyone who testifies is a liar according to Mr Tanaka. He says he is the only one telling the truth. Yet the evidence points to Tanaka as the liar, using the dept to upgrade his political desires. It seems Mr Tanaka aspires to become the next “Hitler” on this planet. We need to eradicate such a person before he spreads all over.

  53. Justin Says:

    Super isreal: “It seems Mr Tanaka aspires to become the next “Hitler” on this planet. We need to eradicate such a person before he spreads all over.”

    My thoughts exactly. When the Nazi’s gave up, only then were the death camps and other human atrocities revealed. When the wrong doers are finally exposed and have surrendered to the feds, I think only then will we discover the real damage that has been done to the LASD.

  54. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » WitnessLA on Warren Olney’s Which Way LA? Discussing Jump Out Boys Planned Firing, Deputy Gangs in General, and More Says:

    [...] instance I mentioned this account of problematic deputy gangs inside Men’s Central Jail, as told by retired LASD Commander Bob [...]

  55. George Farrell Says:

    I worked with Dan Cruz for many years starting in patrol and detective bureau , he (Cruz) is and always was a good,hard working honest deputy sheriff at any rank. Its easy to have your version of the story especially when you have plans to run against the sitting sheriff. For those who have a story to tell go for it all you do is force good deputies to retire.

  56. G.T.Olmsted Says:

    The name is spelled OLMSTED

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