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Sheriff Lee Baca is Named Sheriff of the Year—Perplexing Critics

February 26th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon



On Monday, the National Sheriffs’ Association announced their choice of Sheriff Lee Baca
as “Sheriff of the Year.” The award—which is given “to recognize a sheriff who has shown unusual initiative and imagination in the performance of his/her duty”—will be presented to Sheriff Baca in June at the NSA’s annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Given the deluge of problems and bad publicity that have bedeviled Baca and his department in recent years, many were perplexed by the announcement.

In Monday’s statement announcing Baca’s selection, the Association cited his progressive reputation and pointed to such model programs as the Baca’s Clergy Council and his Education-Based Incarceration program (EBI), which Baca believes can help inmates better turn their lives around when they return to the their communities—and which, indeed, has gotten glowing reviews from the inmates who have graduated from EBI classes.

The Office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff manages the nation’s largest local jail system housing nearly 20,000 inmates. Sheriff Baca developed Education-Based Incarceration (EBI) to address the high rate of offender recidivism in Los Angeles County. EBI uses innovative, evidence-based strategies to deliver education and life skills that provide hope and opportunity to offenders who want to live a better life and become contributing members of their communities. The Office also protects the largest court system in the nation.

Sheriff Baca is the Coordinator of Mutual Aid Emergency Services for California Region 1, which includes the County of Orange. Region 1 serves 13 million people.

Sheriff Baca is the founder of Public Trust Policing that includes diverse advisory councils; a Clergy Council of more than 300 ministers, pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, and leaders of every faith community. He also operates sixteen nonprofit youth centers; ten at-risk regional training centers for at-risk youth ages 10-18, and provides dozens of deputies to 240 elementary and middle schools who teach 50,000 children about positive solutions to the problems of drugs and gangs. He operates one of law enforcement’s largest prevention and intervention programs in the nation.

Yet, despite Baca’s long-term interest in progressive projects, and his latest steps toward some reform, critics found the timing of the honor baffling given the sheer number and seriousness of the scandals that have plagued Baca and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in the last few years—including a “persistant pattern” of abuse of inmates by deputies in the county’s jails, accusations of favors doled out to the sheriff’s friends and donors, a possible quid pro quo system of promotions run by the undersheriff, a rash of deputy gangs whose members may or may not engage in worrisome rites and rituals—and more. Several of the scandals have triggered what appears to be an ever-widening federal investigation, and have caused an unusual number of department captains and other high-ranking LASD supervisors to be relieved of duty and/or pushed into retirement ahead of probes into their conduct. Added to all that, a surprisingly lengthy list of supervisors with otherwise good records are suing the department.

“Jaw-dropping,” was the word used by an LA County Board of Supervisors insider in reference to the award.

Robert Faturechi at the LA Times has written a longer story on Baca’s selection. Here’s a clip from its opening:

His department is being investigated by the feds. A county commission examining abuse in Baca’s jails found him to be disengaged and uninformed, saying he probably would have been fired in the private sector. Secret deputy cliques with gang-like hand signs and matching tattoos have surfaced. And Baca has been accused of using his office for the benefit of friends, relatives and donors.

Despite those challenges, Baca has been awarded “Sheriff of the Year” by the National Sheriffs’ Assn.

His spokesman said the honor was appropriate given Baca is “the most progressive sheriff in the nation” and “a guy that works seven days a week.”

“This is his best year because people do their best when they face their biggest challenges and he is excelling,” said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Baca’s critics disagreed.

“You gotta be kidding,” said Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California. “The years of malfeasance in the jails and the blatant failure of the sheriff to address the problems make his winning this award mind-boggling.”

One must apply/be nominated for the award, and have a recommendation from one’s state sheriffs’ organization. Winners are selected by a committee of three made of up of two past winners, and a civilian with knowledge of law enforcement.


Photo credit/Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

Posted in LA County Jail, LASD, law enforcement, Sheriff Lee Baca | 37 Comments »

37 Responses

  1. Roy Says:

    I seriously doubt any of the people that voted for him have read any of the articles about him or his failure as a Sheriff.

  2. Tales from the Crypt Says:

    The man is self-absorbed, completely delusional and the epitome of narcissism. He is surrounded by people who stand and applaud when he cuts cheese, claiming his exhaust mimics Old Spice. Baca will accept this award and proclaim LASD is the center of the law enforcement universe and Education Based Incarceration is so cutting edge, so progressive that he predicts crime stats will plunge to the point he will be able to eliminate half of the Department. I hear Steve Whitmore is going to host the next Academy Awards Show as well. Forget the scandals, mismanagement and on-going FBI investigations regarding executive corruption and Civil Rights violations, those are just “bumps in the road.” Perhaps Baca is contemplating a run for the Wizard of Oz or seeking a cabinet level position with Obama, Secretary of Delusion and Mismanagement. He will accept this award while thumbing his nose at the Board of Supervisors and the ACLU. I expect at the next EPC, I will see Baca enter the room wearing a toga and strumming a gold harp. This is just too much, I am so ashamed of what this organization has become. The core group of employees are great people who the truth be known, feel the same and are awaiting for the Feds to hopefully force change and replacements on the 4th floor.

  3. Disappointed Says:

    Well, this organization has certainly lost all credibility with this award to Sheriff Baca. Actually, it is a joke!

  4. Answering The Question Says:

    The award-which is given “to recognize a sheriff who has shown unusual initiative and imagination in the performance of his/her duty”

    Of course Sheriff Baca wins this award. Nobody else is even close to showing as much “unusual initiative” as the LA County Sheriff.
    He definitely uses his “imagination” on a regular basis.

    Because he didn’t even know about the problems in the jail, which was due to his Undersheriff being at least twice as smart as him and was “handling” him, doesn’t mean he isn’t unusual and imaginative.

    Everybody relax. Can anybody tell me who won the award last year ( without looking it up ) LMAO.

    How many commenters here, or LA County voters, ever heard of the award before it was awarded to Baca?

    Enough said.

  5. Answering The Question Says:

    Here’s an example of Sheriff Baca being unusual and imaginitive.

    He belives a father who molests his daughter should NOT be sent to jail.

    How “unusual” is that?

    He believes incest should be decriminalized.

    How much imagination does it take to get to that conclusion?

    He wins the award hands down.

  6. Gutter Sluts Says:

    Lakasa nominated him. He deserves it after all he was a region 2 commander. I suggest maybe Baca is and continues to shine as a premier leader second to orange county ex sheriff mike corona

  7. Sgtbuzzkill Says:

    What a bunch of trash all you commenters I hope when you guys need the sheriff they take there time getting to you. Horrible people all of you he has a tough job an he has proven himself a good sheriff everyone has skeletons in the closet it’s easy to judge someone else but none o u know the man I guarantee that

  8. jenngonzo Says:

    @Sgtbuzzkill You’re right! He is a good Sheriff. He’s just the guy who takes all the heat for all the Sgt’s and Captains and Lieutenant’s who didn’t stop, control or handle all the B.S before it got out of hand…

  9. Bandwagon Says:

    Re: Sgtbuzzkill:

    Obviously from your grammer, you are a product of the
    the lowering of hiring standards instituted by the Department.
    Thank god I am retired!

  10. REALLY Says:

    And the retired or passed over employees keep hating…..20000 people on this Dept and they have a “rash” of Deputy gangs. They must be typing on their sides both at the LA Times and Witness LA to have such Slanted Reporting. Next time WLA, just say “Gloria Molina’s jaw dropped” because she is as bias as you at Faturchie…….

  11. Bandwagon Says:

    Re: Really,

    Thought you gave up blogging after Celeste took you to task after your last
    entry. Please allow us “retired folks” a little discretion. We earned it!

  12. jenngonzo Says:

    and another thing… @Sgtbuzzkill re: your comment
    “I hope when you guys need the sheriff they take there time getting to you.”
    You guys keep stepping on your own di*ks! you better hope that never happens on my watch!
    They are already looking and questioning the department regarding response time! Now, we know why !

  13. Answering The Question Says:

    Really,
    You don’t expect anyone here to take you seriously, do you? You’re an unadulterated cheerleader for the sheriff. You chalk up any and all criticism of the sheriff as people merely being “haters”. You make comments about Olmstead being disloyal, even though he tried to bring the problem ( that Sheriff Baca didn’t know about ) to the sheriff’s attention. Sheriff Baca himself has admitted there was a problem. So how is it that you label Olmstead as disloyal?
    Do you expect employees to remain silent about violations of policy and the law because it will bring bad PR to the LASD?
    Isn’t that a serious departure from Sheriff Baca’s own precious Core Values?

    It would show character and intellectual honesty on your part to answer these questions before you simply label any criticism of the sheriff as being from disgruntled, disloyal or “hater” employees.

    Of course, honest dialogue is not what you’re here for is it? You’re simply here to be a cheerleader for the sheriff and it aggrivates you when others refuse to turn a blind eye to the obvious. The LASD has/had some problems that need to be addressed.
    Even Lee Baca has admitted as much.

    But you, Mr. Really, refuse to even acknowledge it. You’re too busy waving your pom poms and calling others names.
    So now you have a name. You’re the cheerleader. And the cheerleader keeps on cheering.

  14. FURTHER TO FOLLOW Says:

    sgt buzzkill is an old stoney boy who lack common sence, ket him rant he and obama believe higher gas prices will generate more revenue to the underoriveledge sponges the government is subsidizing now

  15. REALLY Says:

    And the retired haters sitting at home making at least 150.000 a year keep on hating…take a Cruise will ya….lol

  16. Smegma Says:

    According to whitmore llleroy works 7 days a week. is that work related? I know he was petitioning the lawmakers to keep fishead soup legal. He continously throws all his newspapers on the dash of his several chaufer driven vehicles.

    Keep in mind, the entity who elected him is a lobbyist group. That means they can be be bought, schmoozed and basically bought for the vote.

    I can’t wait for the city of bell trial to be declared a mistrial. it proves two things. The DA can’t get it right and jurors in this state are selected from a pool of immoral, self serving dirt bag citizens who don’t know right from wrong,

    On the other hand, the city of bell’s population consists of a proportionately large population of un-documented illegal aliens, so may I offer this question to all: If they are not legal citizens, do we actually have a crime? Perhaps that’s the underlying reason of the pending mistrial.

  17. Answering The Question Says:

    And the Cheerleader keeps on going to work and schmooching the bosses posteriors. Buy some Chapstick will ya…lol

    BTW Cheerleader, I think I understand where you’re coming from now. You believe if a person is paid a good salary they should be loyal no matter what the boss does. No? Then why the continuing mention of how much money LASD employees/retirees make?
    Newsflash. Leroy Baca doesn’t pay LASD salaries or retirement benefits. The taxpayers do.
    You might want to keep that in mind before you keep inferring that because a person is compensated well, they should just be grateful and sing the praises of their boss.
    That might be your philosophy. Thankfully everybody doesn’t subscribe to that boot licker mentality.

  18. Answering The Question Says:

    Really,
    One more BTW. I notice you totally ignored the questions I asked of you in post #13. I gotta give you props for being smart and not engaging in a debate you cannot win.
    Kudos. Well played.

  19. 10-29Henry Says:

    Does anyone else realize that Really, and a few others on this board are trolling? For those of you that aren’t super into the world of internet message boards outside of witnessla

    “In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[3] ”

    So why give them the attention? Just freeze SgtBuzzkill and REALLY out. It’s pretty easy to do, since their posts are so laughable… just appreciate the comedy, and don’t address them.

  20. Getting close Says:

    I can’t wait to join you retired folks. This ship is sinking faster than the Titanic.

  21. 10-22 per the watch commander....AGAIN Says:

    Well, once again, LASD kisses off a pursuit in their area, so chp and lapd cleans up the mess and catches the crooks for them.

    To make matters worse, Channel 4 interviewed Captain pappy parker from SHB. He proceeded to expound on pursuits (few he has ever seen), and talk about the whole termination of the pursuit lasd didn’t even get involved in. To make matters worse, an lapd unit caught fire due to hot brakes.

    When is the department gonna grow some and start letting pursuits continue. Seems chp and lapd had no problem with the policy to chase this one. Why are we so gutless in this area of police work.

  22. LASD embarrassed again Says:

    The sheriff’s pursuit policy is an absolute joke. They can’t pursue anybody. Gangsters in a G-ride can drive away from the sheriff’s and they just wave bye bye at them.

  23. 10-22 per the watch commander....AGAIN Says:

    Absolutely. thats why it pays to caper in LASD turf. I have to give CHP credit, every pursuit I see, they are on it, get it done, and people go to jail. Other agencies talk crap about LASD and their lack of leadership to allow apprehension of criminals.

    Thank God we have allied agencies who will clean up our mess, albeit with a snicker.

  24. Tales from the Crypt Says:

    EPC, the Chief’s, are who sets the tone for policy and procedure decisions. LASD has allowed attorneys to brow beat EPC to the point where they run to the corners of the room and suck their thumbs at ANY hint of a policy that has an element of risk involved. They live in a world of wanting perfection with every policy and no risk. That is all done to “protect the Sheriff.” And that is the mentality with just about every policy that requires a decision at the Command Staff level, this I know. I feel lucky my people are still allowed to still carry guns.

  25. LASD embarrassed again Says:

    And yet the sheriff tries to tell people that his number one priority is fighting crime. How can a man who claims that fighting crime is his top priority oversee a dept. who’s pursuit policy doesn’t allow them to pursue stolen vehicles or any other property crime? Absolutely laughable.

  26. 10-29Henry Says:

    Each individual complaint that is brought up on these boards about LASD are indicative of an overall illness that plagues our department. All of our problems are connected by common threads.

    It can be summed up best in the following phrase: “Attitude reflects leadership.” There are so many shit attitudes, all the way from the EPC on down to custody deps, and the top two are to blame.

  27. Tales from the Crypt Says:

    @25 & 26, could not have said it better myself. If anyone, I mean anyone, thinks for one moment that Baca’s priority is or ever has been Public Safety, you’re nuts. Just think about this for a moment, when over the last 14 years, have you EVER seen one single policy ever “originate” from Sheriff Baca that had ANYTHING to do with public safety? I can’t think of one, not one. But I can tell you what has come from Leroy, “Education Based Incarceration, Muslim Advisory Boards, Business $$$ Advisory Boards, Guns and Badges to the Stars, Peace in the Middle East Advisory Board, on and on and on. Everything Baca himself has proposed has ALL been political, political and then political. Oh, he will stand tall at a SHB news conference and take credit for Detective or Patrol Division’s hard work and risk taking, and as soon as the cameras are turned off, Leroy runs out to the next Scientology fund raising event. I have removed “pro active police work” from my daily vocabulary because “there is too much risk, let LAPD take the fall.” I quit going to EPC with any thought of something meaningful coming out of it other than watching people in the room applaud when Baca arrives/departs.

    “An overall illness that plagues our Department are connect by common threads. There are so may shit attitudes, all the way from EPC (I will take myself out of that mix, thank you) on down to Custody Deps AND THE TOP TWO ARE TO BLAME.” Bravo, sir, bravo. I can refine that thought a bit more. Those of us who have been around a while and still remember we were cops at one time, are waiting for one of two things to occur. Federal indictments and/or the 2014 election of a new Sheriff. Either way, there will be a house cleaning operation starting with the 4th floor and the Cigar Club crowd.

  28. Tales from the Crypt Says:

    P.S, Hey Marv, how’s that sudden retirement working out for you?

  29. LASD embarrassed again Says:

    Hey Tales,
    Can you tell me the sheriff’s policy on foot pursuits? I’ve heard through the grapevine some outlandish stuff. I’ve heard it’s all designed to discourage foot pursuits by deputies. I’ve been told that deputies have been disciplined for going in foot pursuit. I’m not inclined to believe it, but then again it wouldn’t altogether surprise me considering how they can’t go in pursuit of a GTA.

  30. Tales from the Crypt Says:

    @29, to a certain point, you heard right. This policy was the brainchild several years ago by a captain who wanted to be a commander and a commander who wanted to be chief. Their policy was passed, against my council, and it became the law of the land. When I broke the news to my staff, the heads just shook from side to side. “Some” of the policy concepts were understandable, but there were already policies on the books to deal with something that was deemed to be an off the chart Officer Safety or poor judgement issue. The current foot pursuit policy is what it is. The union leadership all chimed in, but to no avail. 90% of our radio cars are staffed as L-Cars (in your vernacular) so this policy makes a difficult job, all the more difficult.

    By the way, the brainiacs of this policy, they both were promoted. They were hailed as being “progressive.”

  31. LASD embarrassed again Says:

    My God man how the times have changed. Now LASD policies are more restrictive for guys who want to do good aggressive proactive police work than just about any other agency It used to be just the opposite. LASD had a great reputation among street cops from other agencies. Now LASD just keeps on finding ways to embarrass themselves. It’s not just their scandals either. Their policies are embarrassing too.

  32. Starvin Marvin Says:

    For everyone’s information, it is best, according to management to answer calls, be visible and refrain from pro-active law enforcement.

    In other words, don’t make arrests, look the other way when all possible, and kiss off reports so as not to increase the number of reportable stats in the sheriff jurisdiction. This in turn looks good for the sheriff and his policing areas.

    #27, you forgot LAKASA, personal tours to China courtesy of chester and company, as well as trips in the King Air to attend functions deemed “Department related”.

  33. LASD embarrassed again Says:

    @27
    You’re kidding right? People don’t really clap when Baca arrives/departs from his own EPC meetings do they? That’s ridiculous. Why would they applaud for Baca at his own EPC meeting? Are they there to tend to business or to worship the sheriff?

  34. Investigative Mind Says:

    Oh boy, there is just so much negativity. How disheartening!

  35. J. London Says:

    I can totally understand the applause when Baca leaves!!LOL

  36. LASD embarrassed again Says:

    Good grief. If they applaud for the sheriff at departmental meetings, do they have a ring kissing ceremony too? lol

  37. Cognistator Says:

    #24: Betcha them’re the lawyers that engineered P.T.’s retirement “to protect the Sheriff.”

    Betcha.

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