LONG BEACH CHIEF JIM MCDONNELL IS CONTEMPLATING A RUN FOR LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF
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.”