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Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell is Contemplating Running for LA Sheriff

February 6th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


We’ve known this was a possibility for a while, but the LA Times broke the official news that Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell is considering throwing his hat into the ring for Los Angeles County Sheriff.

McDonnell, who was the former Assistant Chief of the LAPD under Bill Bratton, and was one of those short listed to be chief, says he has not yet decided, but that he is seriously considering the run.

When at the LAPD, McDonnell was extremely well liked by the rank and file, had excellent relationships with both city leaders, and in his outreach to diverse community groups, and was an idea guy. It was McDonnell’s detailed blueprint for community policing and related organizational changes that Bill Bratton used successfully to help reform the LAPD when it was sorely in need of reform.

We’ll have much more on McDonnell if he indeed decides to run, but in the meantime, suffice it to say that he’s considered by those who know him with whom we’ve spoken in past weeks, to be a very bright, savvy, highly-respected, exceptionally ethical guy. Now, here’s a clip from Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard’s LA Times story that broke the news:

Since Lee Baca became Los Angeles County sheriff 15 years ago, defeating an incumbent who died days before the vote, he has never faced a serious challenge for reelection to one of California’s top law enforcement jobs.

But after a series of scandals and federal investigations targeting the department, that might be changing.

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said Monday that he was considering a run against Baca next year. McDonnell’s public exploration suggests potential political vulnerabilities amid nearly two years of bad headlines, experts said.

McDonnell, who served as second in command to Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton before moving to Long Beach, would be the most formidable challenger Baca has yet to face. He was on a county commission that recently excoriated Baca’s leadership, depicting him as a disengaged and uninformed manager who failed to stop jailhouse abuse and would have been fired in the private sector.

In an interview, McDonnell said he could offer “a fresh look” at the agency and reforms that “would make a big difference for … the image of the department.” He declined to discuss Baca’s record, saying he wanted to speak to the sheriff first. But as a member of the commission, McDonnell had harsh words for Baca’s stewardship of the agency.

Tracy Manzer at the Long Beach Telegram also has a story on McDonnell’s announcement. It seems that while his Long Beach colleagues would be loathe to lose McDonnell, they are rooting for him, should he decide make the LA County run.

Here’s a clip from her story:

McDonnell said changes could be made throughout the Sheriff’s Department.

“They are a large agency, the challenges that they are facing are immense,” McDonnell said. “It’s certainly an opportunity for someone with fresh eyes to come in and modify, to make some changes for the department and the community it serves,” McDonnell said.

Though he is still discussing the possibility with his family, the decision will likely have to be made within the next month, McDonnell said.

“My goal, if I do decide to run, is to consider working here as chief of Long Beach and working weekends and nights on campaigning.”

No matter where he works, McDonnell added, he will remain a resident of Long Beach.

“It’s where we’ve raised our daughters, it’s our home,” he said.

McDonnell served 30 years with the LAPD, rising to second-in-command under former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton. He took over Long Beach Police Department in March 2010.

Many of the officers in McDonnell’s command ranks said they were aware McDonnell was thinking about the move, but nearly as many of the rank-and-file were surprised by the news Tuesday. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with officers working in patrol and detective divisions saying they understand why McDonnell would want a shot at the single largest sheriff’s department in the country, though it would be a loss for Long Beach.

“I’m honored that that’s the reaction and encouraged by it. We have a great organization here,” McDonnell said. “I would put this team up against any as far as what they contribute to the community from a public safety standpoint.”

Posted in elections, LASD, Sheriff Lee Baca | 16 Comments »

16 Responses

  1. Beacher Says:

    Really undermines his work on the jails commission knowing that he was going to run for sheriff. Now Baca can point to that as coloring the commissions findings. More of the same..

  2. Disappointed Says:

    It is long past time for a radical change. I’m in contact with personnel from my former bureau, and I am saddened by what I hear of the unit commander and supervisors work ethic, but what can we expect, when the managers and executives of the department are unethical. Many on the department would not care for someone coming from the outside, but it is time, long past time for change.

  3. J. London Says:

    Hiring: Oh PLAASSEEE! Baca was made to hire someone to do his job! If Baca had done the job he was legally obligated to do would LASD be in this mess?? Good luck to her she is going to need it!
    McDonnell: His people are happy he’s leaving? Not a good sign and what are his views and how is he going to fix the LASD? So, far it doesn’t look good for LASD! But, let’s give the guy sometime.

  4. prophet mo' teff Says:

    L.B.P.D. Chief McDonnell would make a fitting replacement for current L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca.

    McDonnell can be counted on to continue Baca’a record of rigid defiance of the will of the people and of the courts in maintaining absolute secrecy of employee records and identity of deputies involved in any O.I.S.

    The situation is at its most horrendous point since an appeals court ruling in favor of compelling disclosure of L.B.P.D. officer’s identities in certain O.I.S.’s.

    McDonnell continued his refusal to cooperate with the courts in this matter, bad enough.

    However, did anyone notice a televised local police chase the afternoon of the same day the appeals court released the decision?

    We were told that it began when CHP attempted to pull over a vehicle on the 5 fwy south in the Sun Valley area following an unsafe lane change.

    The chase continued south until the suspect vehicle exited the Fwy and entered a residential area. At that point it became a slow speed carnival of LAPD patrol cars with wailing sirens, police choppers and news choppers zig-zagging through the same neighborhood again and again – right past the front door of the justice who authored the opinion.

    That is harrassment of a judge and should have been the focus of the most serious Federal investigation.

    But nothing has been done.

  5. 10-33_Go Says:

    Prophet Mo: Were the helicopters black, per chance? Perhaps they were from the secret FEMA shadow government? You crazy, Willis. Anyhow, I think McDonnell–and, really, almost any expert outsider that can come into LASD and make it his–would do a great job. It’s definitely time for a change and an outside would be well positioned to figure out who among the prior Baca/Tanaka-era ladder-climbers is worth keeping around. Obviously there will be suspicion around any internal candidate’s ability to be objective…and, indeed, it’ll be hard to muster a competent internal candidate for obvious political and career reasons. Someone from LAPD/LBPD makes a lot of sense to me.

  6. Truth123 Says:

    I think it’s time for a new Sheriff to come in town and clean up all this mess. First get rid of the #2 Guy!!!! Then instead of starting from bottom, start from top and work his/her way to the bottom of this mess!!!!!

  7. Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for Johns Says:

    The Department is pretty much on par with the city of cudahy and maywood. hope it waorks out. BTW, since the campaign donations are gone, take a look at the extremely long list of volunteers for the devil pups program. used to bethere were about 7 volunteers. now all the wanna be promotees have lined up to bandstand their names. Really comical but typical of the motives to get promoted in lasd

  8. Disappointed Says:

    I remember the good old days, when all you had to do was to appear at a retirement dinner to be seen and then an executive might remember that your name was on a promotional list. I remember when good people on a promotional list would tell me that they would not go to a retirement dinner for someone they did not know just to be seen and kiss butt. We need new blood and out with the old and in with the new!

  9. John R. Stites II Says:

    Anyone fools enough to believe a LAPD wanker can run the Sheriff’s Department is in for a big surprise. I don’t care how well recommended he is. McDonnel should stay in Long Beach if they like him so much. As I recall, they don’t have a very good track record with former LAPD personnel as Chief. He can run if he wants to. It will not happen. Anyone on the Sheriff’s Department who would accept him is a fool. Having been retired for the nearly three years, I find it difficult to beleive it has become so bad on the Department. That tells me a few things. One, there sure are a bunch of whiners and crybabies on the department now and two, the unions are totally ineffective and their people need to be replaced. But that requires votes and Deputies are lick the rest of America, too lazy to pay attention or vote.

  10. Sherlock Homie Says:

    Hey John, put the beer down, get a good night’s sleep and come back in the morning!

  11. True Says:

    John Stites, you are right on! Many feel the same.

    Sherlock, relax buddy!

  12. LATBG Says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Stites regarding McDonnell. He seems like a poster-child of a well-manicured manager, the ultimate gool ol’ boy. He may even be a competent executive based on his track record, but he carries baggage with him that does not help the cause.

    We’re looking for a transformational leader, one who is not afraid to slay the sacred cows. Why trade one career manager for another? Now if the unions would get off their asses and actually support a candidate the employees can rally behind, then we’re on to something.

    His presence on the ticket is not a bad thing, though. Neither is Lou Vince. The more the merrier, as long as each candidate can provide a cogent, reality-based vision for the future of the LASD. This election should be about choices, and we can do better than ABB (anybody but Baca).

  13. Fact Says:

    I have one word why NOT to elect a former LAPD Official (especially this one) as Sheriff…

    M A N I F E S T O

  14. Good Grief Says:

    Stites….. [Personal attack edited out]… McDonnel is a leader no matter what department he works for… We need somebody with leadership, morals and character.. That excludes Baca, Tanaka and you!!!!

  15. Fact Says:

    #14- It also excludes McDonnell. As the race heats up, you will see the dirt that is unveiled about him. Your hero Police Chief has many skeletons not suited for Sheriff. There is a reason why he was never annointed as the LAPD Chief.

    Wait and see.

    The Manifesto is just the tip of the Iceberg!

  16. Doc Ellis 124 Says:


    I am looking for facts to help torpedo the political careers and campaigns of Los Angeles County Sheriff candidates including McDonnell. I maintain a page on FB called Torpedo Sheriff Candidate Campaigns Through Facts and wonder where do I find the dirt that Fact at 15 mentions.

    Thank you for any help.

    Doc Ellis 124
    Torpedo Sheriff Candidate Campaigns Through Facts

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