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LA Supes Vote $75 Mil for Kern County Jail….Brown Gets a Mini-Extension on Prison Problem…. More on the LASD Deputy & the 7 Shootings…

September 25th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon



LA COUNTY SUPERVISORS VOTE TO GIVE BACA $75 MILLION TO SEND INMATES TO KERN COUNTY LOCK-UP

On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to give Sheriff Lee Baca $75 million over a 5-year period in order for him to ship 500 county jail inmates to a jail facility in the town of Taft in Kern County.

Speaking for the LASD, Chief Eric Parra presented the need for the money and the out-of-county jail contract as answering a pressing need for more jail space to prevent dangerous inmates from being released after serving only a fraction of their sentences—a policy that the sheriff has been employing for around a decade, but that now has quite rightly attracted notice and concern.

The vote came after last week’s approval of another $25 million to send 500 jail inmates to fire camps—a strategy that at least has rehabilitative and job training elements.

Some of those experts and advocates who opposed the Taft jail plan brought up the fact that the sheriff and the board of supervisors have declined to push for the use of pretrial release and the strategy known as split sentencing-—both of which have been used in other California counties to lower their jail populations in the wake of AB109.

ACLU legal director Peter Eliasberg reminded the board about the county-funded Vera Institute report on jail overcrowding, which found that, with the use of judicious pretrial release of certain inmates waiting for their cases to be adjudicated, the department could immediately lower the jail population substantially.

“One of the reports by Vera was that the pretrial system in LA was broken,” said Eliasberg, “and that there were 700 or more low-level offenders in the jail who would present little risk to community but who could not make bail. This board,” he said, “with one stroke of the pen could give the sheriff’s department the authority to release those pretrial inmates to electronic monitoring. You’re getting 500 beds at Taft. You could get 700 beds with one stroke of the pen, one motion of this board.”

Eliasberg also pointed out that this pre-trial strategy was already being used successfully in San Diego and Riverside along with seven other California counties.

Additional speakers pointed to the fact that, unlike most other California counties, LA County is making almost no use of “split-sentencing,” the newly instituted incarceration and reentry strategy where the inmate serves part of his or her sentence in jail, and the remainder in the community under close supervision by the probation department with the goal to reintegrate successfully into their lives, and not end up reoffending. (Split-sentencing also requires participation in certain rehabilitative programs.)

In the end, the requisite three supes voted for the $75 million/Taft Jail plan, with Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky abstaining in the hope that they could delay the vote for a week or four in order to more fully consider other options. But no luck.

Worry about dangerous inmates being released to the countryside prevailed, and the purse strings were opened—nevermind that there were far better alternatives available than those presented in the false choice between more jail cells or the ridiculously early release of prisoners by the sheriff.

An opportunity sadly missed.


JERRY BROWN GETS 30 DAYS BREATHING SPACE TO TRY TO WORK OUT A PRISON POP REDUCTION DEAL WITH ALL THE PLAYERS

The federal judges overseeing California’s requirement to lower the state’s prison population just gave Governor Jerry Brown 30 more days after the December 31 deadline in order to try to hammer out a long term solution.

Here’s a clip from Paige St. John’s story for the LA Times:

Three federal judges have given California Gov. Jerry Brown a 30-day extension on their order to reduce prison crowding, buying time for confidential talks between lawyers for the state and those representing inmates.

The order, delivered Tuesday afternoon, was well-received by prisoners’ lawyers, who had largely been left out of negotiations between Brown and the Legislature over prison-crowding solutions.

“We’re always willing to try and negotiate an agreement that will benefit the state and the prisoners,” said Don Specter, lead attorney for the Prison Law Office. He said he did not believe a one-month delay in reducing prison crowding would make a big difference in the 23-year-old litigation.

Brown’s lawyers had asked the federal courts for a three-year delay in the Dec. 31 deadline to remove roughly 9,600 inmates from California’s overcrowded prison system, where medical and psychiatric care is so poor that incarceration has been deemed unconstitutionally cruel. The governor offered to use that time to invest in community probation and rehabilitation programs, with the aim of reducing the number of repeat offenders being sent to prison.


MORE ON THAT SHERIFF’S DEPUTY, HIS SEVEN SHOOTINGS AND HOW HE GOT BACK ON PATROL

As readers likely remember, in a startling story last week, the LA Times reported that Michael Gennaco of the Office of Independent Review wrote the LA County Board of Supervisors about his concern over a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy who had just been involved in his seventh shooting, this time a fatal one.

According to Gennaco, Deputy Anthony Forlano, who had been put on desk duty for two years after his 2011 shooting number six, was returned to field duty by former undersheriff Paul Tanaka in April of this year. A few months later, the deputy and his partner shot a seventh suspect, this time fatally.

Gennaco noted that, of the deputies first six shootings, three involved unarmed suspects.

But, whether or not all Forlano’s shootings were righteous, the sheer number of shootings is alarmingly unprecedented, at least according to the collective institutional memories of all the members of law enforcement—LASD AND LAPD, both—-with whom we’ve thus far spoken in the last few days. “At least I can’t think of anyone with that kind of number,” said a knowledgable LAPD source.

Mr. Tanaka repeatedly denied to the press that he’d been the one to send the deputy back into the field, but said he gave the decision to Forlano’s supervisor, Captain Robert Tubbs.

(Tanaka also said he’d been the person to initially bench Forlano, which according to department spokesman Steve Whitmore, was not the case. Whitmore said that the deputy had been taken out of the field by a panel of command staffers. )

Sheriff Baca, meanwhile, said he knew nothing of the decision to return Forlano to patrol.

It turns out, however, that Tanaka reportedly did unilaterally give the order for Forlano to go back to patrol.

In fact, we have learned of the existence of two emails sent between Forlano and Tanaka on April 26 of this year, both referring to a meeting the day before (April 25) between the deputy and the then-undersheriff.

The first email sent in the morning of the 26th, is from Forlano thanking Tanaka for meeting with him and getting him off the desk duty and back to work in the field—-or words to that effect.

Tanaka answers a few hours later, and gives the deputy a verbal slap on the back, writing, in essence, that he believes that Forlano will make the department proud.

The emails reveal several interesting things.

First there is the timing.

If you remember, Tanaka was forced into retirement by the sheriff on March 6, 2013. Although Tanaka was still technically employed by the department until August first, his falling out with Baca was reportedly severe enough that he was rarely in the LASD’s headquarters after the first couple of weeks of March.

Moreover, in the fall of 2012, after the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence recommended that Baca removed Tanaka from any oversight of the jails or of patrol, the sheriff assured the board of supervisors that his undersheriff was now only overseeing the budget.

Clearly this was not the case—as evidenced by Tanaka’s actions with Anthony Forlano in April.

It is alarming that neither the sheriff, nor anyone else, seemed to know that Mr. Tanaka was still taking upon himself such significant decisions—despite assurances to the contrary—and doing so, as has been his pattern, by stepping outside the chain of command, without employing any rigorous protocol or process whatsoever.

“So it was determined that he was field ready, based on no objective criteria other than a conversation,” said Mike Gennaco.

One wonders in what other ways the former undersheriff, now candidate for LA County Sheriff, selected himself as the decider, with no one able or willing to stop him.

We are thankful that the sheriff’s department, with the OIR’s urging, plans to create a sensible system for dealing with such situations as Forlano’s. It is in the best interest of the deputy and the community that such protections be put into place.

Had they existed last April, it is possible a man would be locked up, but not dead and a deputy’s career would be recalibrated, but not be shattered.


AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC….THE LA TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD SAYS THAT A STRONG INSPECTOR GENERAL MAY DO BETTER IN OVERSEEING THE LASD THAN A STANDING COMMISSION

The LA Times editorial board argues that now is not the time for a new commission to oversee the sheriff’s department, that an independent inspector general could have a much stronger effect.

We’re still debating the matter, but editorial board writer, Sandra Hernandez makes many points well worth considering.

Here’s clip:

….The fact is, there are already a number of people and offices overseeing the Sheriff’s Department, but they lack authority. The supervisors have a special counsel who has repeatedly issued reports but who does not have the power to force a discussion. There’s an Office of Independent Review, but it too often serves as an advisor to the sheriff. And the ombudsman, created to handle citizens’ complaints, fails to regularly perform that job. The jails commission noted that too often the Sheriff’s Department has only “paid lip-service to those oversight bodies.” The proposed inspector general’s office would consolidate the functions of those other offices.

No doubt, some of the supervisors will argue that any watchdog agency will have only limited influence over Sheriff Lee Baca because he is a directly elected official. It’s true that it is the voters, not the supervisors or any other overseer, who ultimately decide whether Baca stays or goes. But a strong inspector general, whose office is adequately funded and staffed, could have a profound impact on the sheriff by maintaining a public spotlight on the problems in his office….

Posted in CDCR, Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (Jerry), jail, LA County Board of Supervisors, LA County Jail, Los Angeles County, pretrial detention/release, prison, prison policy, Probation, Sheriff Lee Baca | 25 Comments »

25 Responses

  1. J.London Says:

    “In fact, we have learned of the existence of two emails sent between Forlano and Tanaka on April 26 of this year, both referring to a meeting the day before (April 25) between the deputy and the then-undersheriff.”

    C: I agree that Tanaka is unsuited for any public office! Having said that I need to point out that since Baca took office NO ONE obeyed the chain of command! Baca would walk around the department like it was his own fiefdom and anyone would complain to Baca and Baca would tell that person to go ahead and tell their respective supervisor. The supervisor would then try to notify his supervisor and Baca maybe would be obeyed and maybe not! It was a mess! I recall one specific occasion that Stonich wrote on the board to “do what the man says!” referring to Baca!

    Stonich and Waldie were also offenders of the chain of command! Often a captain or lieutenant would get a call from then Undersheriffs Stonich or Waldie giving orders that were contrary to previous instruction and out of the chain of command. Stonich and especially Waldie didn’t like to be questioned. Stonich and Waldie would seldom let others know, in he chain of command, about the new instructions. Sound convoluted? You should have lived through it! Add, when the new orders were being carried out the unit commander would call SHB and convey how badly things are and that it was Baca,Stonich, Waldie or Tanaka (aka Larry, Moe, Curly, Joe) that gave the orders. That’s when Baca would give his infamous “no one told me” or “I didn’t say that!”

    Lastly, it is obvious that Tanaka lied again!

  2. Check The Facts Says:

    “Had they existed last April, it is possible a man would be locked up, but not dead and a deputy’s career would be recalibrated, but not be shattered.”

    And it is also possible that another deputy would have been involved in that shooting instead of Deputy Forlano. He did have a partner that night and both of them fired. I do not know Forlano, but he is not the only deputy or P.O. I have known who has been involved in five or more shootings. There was one P.O. I worked with from a No.Cal. Department who was involved in ten.

    If Forlano had spent his entire career working Lost Hills or Crescenta Valley and been involved in seven shootings, I would find that alarming on its face, but given his assignments this number is not beyond reason. The question is how many shootings are too many? I have been present on multiple occasions when deputies could have shot at a suspect and did not, but that split second decision rests with each cop. There are also dead P.O.s who could not pull the trigger when they should have. All LEOs doubt themselves to one degree or another when they are in a shooting and also when they choose not to shoot. You cannot imagine the stress unless you have been there.

    I refuse to judge a man based simply on the number of times he pulls the trigger. We don’t know. We weren’t there. The irony in this, of course, is that every night on television fictional police officers are in gun battles. On some programs this happens every week. We call that entertainment and are not troubled by it at all. Based on the number of shootings that almost every character on TV’s most popular shows have been in, they should have been grounded or placed in a mental institution years ago. But we just smile and check back in with them next week to see how many more bad guys they gun down.

    Real police officers don’t pull the trigger as cavalierly as their fictional counterparts; the delusions of the liberal left notwithstanding. My experience is that cops use deadly force because at times it is required of them and when they do they do so reluctantly. To say otherwise is misinformed or disingenuous.

  3. LeftattheBall Says:

    @check the facts- I won’t comment on the tv shows. And I will not engage in the facts of this particular shooting, from all current accounts it would seem the deputies firing upon the suspect was completely justified and warranted. I won’t dispute your philosophy of his work assignment some how places him in a position to be involved in more shootings. I will point to the P.P.I. system and why it was set up. In this case it would appear that deputy involved shootings some how do not apply to mandated force review (even when all the force was justified). Just as this shooting seems to be completely above the board I am curious why the other 6,000 field deputies have not even come close to this number of shootings, surely there is a lot more than one “shit magnet” in the department.
    Lastly, the whole scenario shows how there was no chain of command, and how the department has been void of actual leadership, sadly in this case a deputies career may be just another casualty. It is true in our line of work we will have to use force, sometimes deadly. And often the public will scream foul, when there were no other options.
    But seven shootings, no matter where you work begs the question why? Are they a magnet or are they placing themselves in situations where there are no other options?

  4. interesting Says:

    Mr. Tanaka repeatedly denied to the press that he’d been the one to send the deputy back into the field, but said he gave the decision to Forlano’s supervisor, Captain Robert Tubbs. So how did Tanaka give this decision to Capt. Tubbs? Tanaka wasn’t suppose to be making decision regarding patrol? Right? Yet, Captain Tubbs went to Tanaka? Are you paying attention Mr. Baca?

  5. John Stites Says:

    Forlano deserved to return to Patrol if that is what he wanted to do and Tanaka approving it was the right move. I knew one deputy who was in 15 shootings I believe killing 5. All good shootings. I have seen some too quick to shoot in my opinion but on a whole, especially in today’s world, having a host of shootings under you belt comes down to the luck of the draw and where you work. Gangsters seem very willing to shoot it out with the cops, so there it is. When I worked the field my mind told me I was going home to my family if I had to shoot every bad guy I encountered. Those of you who haven’t been there cannot comment on the issue in an educated manner. And all the lack of leadership comments are BS. There are 1400 Sergeants and Lieutenants out there and frankly they don’t need the brass’s permission to lead. This blog is just blowing smoke on issues that really have no impact upon department leadership unless someone just doesn’t want to do their job. As a Sergeant I did not give one thought to the brass when I made a decision. I knew the law, the policy, and my subordinates abilities. Oh, yeah, I was questioned and even investigated but I left with zero discipline in my jacket. Anyway, the job is about questions. We ask, they ask, the DA asks, The PD asks. Get used to it.
    Mike Gennaco and his people in the OIR will never be happy. For one, if something is working well, he takes credit for the improvement even if he wasn’t involved. If something is perceived to be bad by him, then it’s someone else’s fault even though he has been in the job for ten years or so. In reality you will come to the conclusion I did years ago if you research his background, he and his associates hate cops and that is where their focus is. As long as they claim there is bad they still have a job. The cycle continues. It’s beautiful. What a moneymaker. If I had only known.

  6. J.London Says:

    #5: I´m glad you´re gone!

  7. Roy Bean Says:

    #6 [Edited by WLA] Keep reading this leftist rag. Adam Hank!!

  8. J.London Says:

    I´m so scared!

  9. LeftattheBall Says:

    Did he mean Adam Henry?

  10. Celeste Fremon Says:

    EDITOR’S NOTE:

    #9, Clearly, yes.

    And for those readers unfamiliar with the expression who would like a translation…..

  11. Cognistator Says:

    #5: “I knew one Deputy who was in 15 shootings I believe killing five. All good shootings.”

    Those shootings, I am guessing, occurred before the advent of the OIR.

    So tell me: how do you think those shootings would’ve been viewed by the OIR?

  12. J.London Says:

    C: It should really be removed. It´s a threat and who knows maybe Roy there will be the next Aaron Alexis??

  13. Celeste Fremon Says:

    J.L. It’s now edited.

  14. CSN83 Says:

    Let’s just say, I saw something very interesting on ABC7 a few minutes ago regarding Sheriff Baca’s endorsement & spokesmanship for a product called “Yor Health.” The ABC segment is set to air Monday night at 11PM, but if you are curious, google Yor Health Baca and you might be as astonished as I was about this. In the past, I heard that he hardly ever eats, etc., which I believe play out with his zaniness & thought process. Now we know why he doesn’t eat & is whacky!

  15. James Carter Says:

    @CSN83….just watched it…what a bunch of garbage….”Best Effort…High Standards…Noble Thoughts,” really! Sounds like a bunch of hypocracy, I guess thats why he transferred the Personel Captain to Wayside for a little freeway therapy, I guess that was his noble thought. Funny how he said he was gonna come back to life re-incarnated as a horse, well he is half way there, because he is already acting like a donkey. Wonder how much of a kickback he got for that speaking engagement.

  16. breaking News Says:

    @ James Carter, Watch Ch7 news tomorrow night at 2300.

  17. Pink Owl White Swan Says:

    Wasn’t Assistant Sheriff Helmod the “ON DUTY WATCH COMMANDER” the day of the shooting when Deps shot up a Suspect vehicle.

    Didn’t everyone else at the scene receive discipline and Good Ole Baca Boy Helmold received “NO” Discipline”!!!

    No wonder he skipped rank levels and made it to his current level.

    Isn’t he the seed planter who BACA now listens too!!!

  18. Pink Owl White Swan Says:

    You guys gonna watch Channel 7 Monday at 11pm?

    Whats the name of the health product Baca endorsed which has caught the eyes and ears of Channel 7?

  19. Pink Owl White Swan Says:

    Celeste- you edited me again for no reason except I asked questions about Olmstead testifying for 2 EME members with Life Sentences against Captain Cruz and the SHERIFF’s department!!!

  20. Celeste Fremon Says:

    EDITOR’S NOTE:

    POWS, I didn’t edit you. When you post a comment you need to give it minute (Shocking as this might seem I often engage in activities—work and otherwise—other than crouching over my various electronic devices to approve comments.)

    If hours pass and your comment doesn’t go up, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll see if the SPAM assassin has it, or will explain if there’s any kind of problem with the comment—which is rare, by the way.

    In any case, the comment in question was posted here around 20 minutes after you wrote it. So don’t fret.

  21. LATBG Says:

    Pink Owl White Swan, you’ve already declared yourself a Tanaka cheerleader, which is your choice and you will have to live with it. It’s a free country.

    On the other hand, what is it about your obsession with Olmsted testifying in any official forum, and speaking the truth? It’s a welcome change from all the perjured testimony offered by so many department executives to date.

    You would be surprised at how different things would have been if Baca, Tanaka, and all of their crooked sycophants embraced that all important aspect of law enforcement: integrity.

  22. Prophet Mo' Teff Says:

    The Board of Supervisors doesn’t need to implement a reformed pre-trial release policy for inmates awaiting trial on low-level offenses.

    The Supervisors are more comfortable throwing away $75 million of County taxpayer’s money to buy custody beds in Kern County for 500 inmates.

    This arrangement also preserves and extends the current L.A. County Jail arrangement of inmates as a money crop for harvesting by chosen special interests.

    There is good reason not to reform the policy on pre-trial release. Because that would cut into the money crop of Aladdin Bail Bonds.

    Firstly, the demand for bail bonds and the amount customers are willing to pay is enhanced when the jail maintains a reputation for cruelty, violence, filth and overcrowding.

    Secondly, if the courts and the jail begin pre-trial release to electronic monitoring for low-level defendants who can’t make bail, then what will happen to Aladdin?

    The demand for their bail bonds will decrease.

    Some inmates who have the financial means to purchase a bail bond will choose to wait in jail another 48-72 hours and try to qualify for a no money pre-trial release.

    A person with financial means to purchase a bail bond often cannot afford it. Purchasing the Aladdin Bail Bond often means borrowing from family and friends and/or using the nest egg saved to pay for a child’s ballet lessons or to pay the dentist for a crown on a broken tooth.

    Aladdin is counting on getting your nest egg, they don’t want someone thinking they may qualify for a pre-trial no money release.

  23. Prophet Mo' Teff Says:

    The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is chucking $75 million to lease 500 custody beds in Kern County. This is justified as enabling the Sheriff to relieve the overcrowding which can result in dangerous inmates getting released after serving only a fraction of their sentence.

    Will the dangerous inmates get sent to the jail facility in Kern County?

    Probably not. They will continue to be held at NCCF and other units in the L.A. Jail system designated for high-risk inmates.

    Who will get sent for custody in Kern County?

    We aren’t sure yet, but we should make it a point to keep a close watch on the demographics of the inmates sent to Kern and the average percentage of sentence served as compared with stats for the entire jail system. And we need to monitor the extra-curricular programs.

    L.A County inmates are a money crop, and the Kern County custody beds present a potential opportunity for special interests to profit.

    Look for the Sheriff to send his lowest-risk and most stable, able-bodied inmates to Kern County. He can then hire out supervised inmate work crews to harvest cotton and lima beans and shore up irrigation ditches in the area.

    Also look for the Kern inmates to end up serving a larger percentage of their total sentence than is average for the entire jail system population. Nobody likes to give up a good, solid worker.

  24. Pink Owl White Swan Says:

    LATBG – Lets see how your boy Olmstead feels with Deps in the audience as he does his thing!!!

  25. LATBG Says:

    Pink Owl, do you actually think Olmsted is going to be intimidated? You should get your facts straight, he was subpoenaed to testify as a result of the finding of the CCJV, which last time I checked did not have anything good to say about your boy Tall Paul.

    There will be many deputies in the audience when Olmsted does his “thing,” and they will cheer him on…

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