ANATOMY OF A JAILS COMMISSION MEETING – A SERIES IN THREE PARTS
PART 2 – THE LIEUTENANT
May 15, 2012,
Lieutenant Alfred Gonzales, a retired 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, took a seat at the microphone reserved for guests in the main chamber of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. Gonzales had agreed to give testimony before the Los Angeles County Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence but his grim expression suggested he still had mixed feelings about doing so.
Since early this year, the jail commission’s five teams of pro-bono investigators have been seeking out and interviewing a growing list of people with knowledge of the jails—retired and current sheriff’s department personnel, former inmates, jail chaplains, and others. The goal is to talk to at least 60 “witnesses.” Only a small percentage of that 60 plus would wind up in the chair that Gonzales now occupied.
At this May meeting only six of the seven commission members were present:. Four are former federal judges, Robert Bonner, Dickran Tevrizian, Carlos Moreno and Lourdes Baird, the only woman on the commission and the one elected by the rest to chair these meetings. Bonner is arguably the heaviest hitter of the judicial group in that he has also headed both the DEA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection the during the period when it became the part of the newly created Department of Homeland Security. The two non-judges on the day’s panel were former First AME Church pastor, Reverend Cecil “Chip” Murray, who is the one looked to by the others for his roots in LA’s communities, and Alex Busansky, a former DOJ civil rights attorney who is now the current president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and the most directly familiar of the group with the issue of custody problems in general in that, among other relevant qualifications, he headed up the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons for the Vera Institute. The missing commissioner was Long Beach Chief of Police Jim McDonnell, once on the short list to be LAPD chief, thus the person knowledgeable about the law enforcement perspective. McDonnell evidently missed today’s hearing due to some irresolvable conflict or other.
Gonzales was the second of the day’s witnesses. The first round of testimony was provided by a retired sheriff’s department sergeant named Daniel Pollaro, who described men’s central jail as an increasingly out of control and violent place featuring deputy cliques whose members routinely ignored supervisors, and use of force numbers that were far higher they they should be. Yet the thing that seemed to especially get the attention of commission members was the revelation by Pollaro that Paul Tanaka—then the Assistant Sheriff in charge of custody, now the undersheriff—had reached down from his lofty executive perch to make a series of moves that, according to Pollaro, effectively smashed the chain-of-command at Men’s Central Jail and gutted the authority of its supervisors.
With Pollaro’s testimony in mind, the commissioners were intensely interested to hear what Gonzales, a former Men’s Central Jail supervisor, a rank above Pollaro, had to say about these matters.
Before Gonzales began his official testimony, he asked to first present a prewritten statement, which was clearly important to him. At a nod from the commission’s chief counsel, Richard Drooyan, he fished a folded sheer of paper out of his jacket pocket, and read the following, his voice roughened by emotion:
I come from a family with a long history of public service. My father was severely wounded in World War II and retired as a federal civil servant. I am one of eight family members, which includes my wife who is in the audience, who are current or retired law enforcement officers. Four of these members also served in the military, including 3 Vietnam veterans and one Iraqi war veteran. I am a Viet Nam Veteran of the united states Marine Corp. I have 35 years of public service, 26 years with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. I retired with the rank of Lt.
Although I am here voluntarily, …. I did not ask to participate in these proceedings. It pains me to be here. And my intent today is not to malign or bring discredit on the sheriff’s department. My goal is to bring transparency to what was occurring at Men’s Central Jail between 2003 and when I retired in 2007. In my opinion 90 to 95 percent of sheriffs deputies perform their duties in an honorable and professional manner.
That done, for the first few minutes of his testimony, Gonzales covered many of the same problems at Men’s Central Jail that Sergeant Pollaro had already described earlier [see Part 1]— the chronic, in-your-face tardiness by certain deputies, the dismissive attitude among many of those same deputies toward supervisors who attempted to rein in their behavior, and the relationship of these problematic actions to the deputy power cliques that had formed among those who worked on the 2000 and 3000 floors.
“Ninety to ninety-five percent of the deputies were outstanding,” Gonzales told the commissioners. “But there was that segment…”
Gonzales explained how he managed to wrestle the tardiness and insubordination problems mostly to the ground, but how there was a strong push back from those deputies affected. “I was holding their feet to the fire. I was holding them to the hours of their work. It wasn’t well received by a lot of personnel,” he said.
But while he was able to get a handle on much of the unruly deputy behavior, there were other issues that Gonzales found unsettling and more difficult to combat.
“ I noticed some eerie movement on the 2000 and 3000 floors specifically.” Gonzales said. “The deputies, once their shifts were over, would congregate on that floors until the entire shift was congregated at the entrance to that floor, and they would all march off the floor, and down the elevators, and then walk out together into the parking lot.” He paused. “But what was so weird about it is these groups wouldn’t comingle with other floors.”
Nor, he found, would they acknowledge the presence of a supervisor. “They would just stone-faced walk right by me.” Such actions weren’t hugely against the rules, exactly. It was more that they were yet another discomforting weirdity in a paramilitary organization where the loyalty to the department and to the law was supposed to be paramount—-not allegiance to one’s more-bad-ass-then-you-are deputy posse.
CLIQUES AND FORCE
Most to the point, as far as the commissioners were concerned, was Gonzales’ testimony about how he started to observe that the deputy clique behavior seemed to correlate with some alarming trends in the use of force at CJ.
“I began to notice patterns of force on [the 2000 and 3000] floors, and I began to identify who my heavy-handed deputies were” Gonzales said, adding that he instituted strategies to combat the problem right away. “To limit their exposure on those floors, when I assigned overtime, I’d assign them to another floor.” The idea wasn’t to rotate their assignments exactly, which wasn’t within a lieutenant’s power, but just to vary their extra assignments, so that the deputies who were amassing force reports on certain floors, would hopefully break out of their patterns.
The strategy was notably unsuccessful, mainly since the deputies flatly refused to cooperate. Gonzales said he would come in the next day after making such assignments, and find that men and women whom he’d assigned to, say, the 5th floor would be right back on their preferred floor, assignments be damned. “They’d browbeat the deputy who was working the assignment they wanted into letting them change.”
Gonzales met with his sergeants and made it clear that all this changing of overtime locations was a no-go. The high-handed self-assignments slowed down, he said. But the worrisome use-of-force patterns continued. For one thing, Gonzales noted that there was an unnatural similarity in the way that many of the force reports involving inmate injuries were written, as if everyone had cribbed from the same outline. As a consequence, what logically should have been very different force descriptions were written up in cookie-cutter fashion as having occurred in almost exactly the same way, which Gonzales knew to be impossible. “I thought, ‘Wow, this wasn’t right,’” he said.
What really concerned him, Gonzales said, was the rising number of inmate injuries, not just bruises, but real damage. “I saw a lot of broken limbs. A lot of suturing.”
What is more, Gonzales started getting disconcerting calls about off duty problems with the same groups of force-using deputies.
In response to some of the commissioners’ quizzical expressions, Gonzales explained that other local law enforcement agencies would usually give him a courtesy call when they picked up any of his deputies outside of work for crossing some legal line or other, a matter that he found was happening with increasing frequency. Worse, in Gonzales’ mind, was the fact that he began hearing that the misbehaving deputies were referring to themselves off duty, not as Los Angeles deputy sheriffs, but as “2000 floor deputies” or “3000 floor deputies.”
To illustrate the point, Gonzales told the commission about one deputy who was picked up in 2003 for a DUI in Covina, at which time Gonzales got the usual courtesy call. Gonzales learned that, after the deputy was pulled over, the traffic officer tried to get him to take a field sobriety test, but the deputy was belligerent.
“Do you know who you’re F-ing with?’” the deputy reportedly yelled to the traffic cop. “’You’re F-ing with a 3000 floor deputy!”
Covina wasn’t the only source of multiple courtesy phone calls; there was also Fullerton, where deputies reportedly often drank and caroused to the point that the cops got notified. One night the drunken behavior went further than usual and Gonzales got a call that four of his deputies had assaulted a man at a bar. According to the Fullerton PD officers, the four deputies chased a guy out of the watering hole, then knocked him to the ground, at which time, two of the deputies began beating the guy, while another two stood watch “to make sure that no one intervenes.”
Astonishingly, there were no criminal charges filed, although the four did get some days off work—ranging from 8 days off for two of the deputies, to 10 and 20 days for those who did the beating.
Two of the commissioners asked why no criminal charges were filed against the deputies involved in what sounded to those listening like a clear case of criminal assault that would land any ordinary citizen behind bars. Gonzales said that the victim “wasn’t….desirous,” of pressing charges. It was explanation that did not appear to satisfy the two commissioners at all, but they let it drop.
In still another incident in 2003, Gonzales told how he got a call when some of the 2000 and 3000 floor deputies were drunk and “causing havoc out in the City of Industry.”
“You know, this behavior is reminiscent of gang members,” Gonzales said he later told one of the drunk and disorderly deputies in an attempt to “counsel” him about his group’s troubling “clique mentality.”
“This is how gang members act!”
It was a remark that would come back to haunt him.
Nevertheless, Gonzales said he felt he was making headway in counteracting the clique behavior. Yet he admitted he was very relieved when, in 2006, CJ’s then commanding officer, Captain John Clark, decided to impose a job rotation strategy, a move that Gonzales had long favored as he believed it would help with the unhealthy deputy groups.
“I thought, ‘We’re finally going to do it,’” he told the commission, “’We’re going to break these floors up…. We’re not going to inconvenience these deputies. We were just going to give them different job assignments.”
But then, as Sergeant Pollaro had recounted earlier in the day, (and as WLA’s Matt Fleischer reported here), after Clark sent his memo announcing the rotation to all the deputies, the deputies complained to then Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka, who called an unprecedented deputies only meeting. Gonzales said he learned about the meeting from his own deputy sources told him that the assistant sheriff had been in the jail and why.
“After that. I heard that the rotation had been squashed.”
The meeting that Tanaka called with CJ’s supervisors occurred a few days later. Gonzales’s description of the meeting held in the 2000 floor briefing room was similar to that of Sergeant Pollaro, albeit with more detail:
“Every sergeant, every lieutenant and our captain, Captain Clark” was in attendance, Gonzales said, adding that he’d never met the assistant sheriff before.
“There was a podium. Tanaka was behind the podium. There were rows of chairs. I was in the front row. Captain Clark was a few seats to my right.
“It was a one sided meeting. [Tanaka] spoke. Everyone else listened.” Glaring at those assembled, assistant sheriff announced, among other angry declarations, that he had hand picked three lieutenants to come into CJ, “because the supervision at Central was lacking.”
Mr. Tanaka is known for his towering, profanity-laced rages and, according to Gonzales, the assistant sheriff quckly wound himself up to the point that he was shouting at the limit of his voice.
“How dare a lieutenant on the Sheriff’s Department refer to deputy sheriffs as gang members. How dare you!” the assistant sheriff reportedly yelled to those assembled at one point. Gonzales understood right away that this particular part of the yelling probably referred to his spontaneous, one-time remark two years before to the 2000 floor deputy after the incident of outsized drunken carousing in the City of Industry.
“You guys are a bunch of dinosaurs! Your supervisorial skills are antiquated.” Gonzales said Tanaka continued to shout. Then the assistant sheriff made reference to the 2000 and 3000 floors, “and he said, ‘You supervisors will stay off those floors and let these deputies do what they’ve got to do!’”
Although the collective dressing down had everyone in the room in a state of startled thrall, Gonzales was the most taken aback at the hands off the subordinates part of the tirade.
“I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”
But the best was yet to come.
Gonzales said that Tanaka then arranged his arms in a cradling gesture and swung them to and fro in a rock-a-bye baby gesture. “This is the XYZ generation,” he reportedly said nodding toward his arms. Then pointing to the “baby,” in the center said, “This is the Y generation. You will coddle them!”
Finally, according to Gonzales, Tanaka turned to face him directly and began to shout. “’Yes, you lieutenant, you will coddle these men!”
Right then John Clark stood up, “and tried to intervene in my behalf,” said Gonzales. But Tanaka shouted him down too. “I don’t’ want to hear from you, Captain!” he thundered.
“I thought, we’ve lost it,” Gonzales said. “We’ve lost it. The chain of command was totally broken.”
TO CODDLE OR NOT TO CODDLE
Despite being singled out at the meeting, Gonzales insisted to the commissioners that he did not change his tactics in response to Tanaka’s hands off directive. “I mean, my god, these were adult men and women! I didn’t coddle them. I was going to do my job!”
Not “coddling,” however, had consequences. A few weeks later, Gonzales was called to meet with his direct superior, Commander Dennis Conte, who told him that his superior, the Chief of Custody, Sammy Jones, wanted to meet with Gonzales, because he was getting a lot of pressure from Tanaka to get Gonzales out of the jail system altogether, to “roll him up,” as it is known in LASD vernacular.
Gonzales said that Conte—who was a veteran of more than 40 years in law enforcement, including a couple of decades at the LAPD—was dismayed by the way things were playing out.
“Y’know,” Conte reportedly said, “in all my years in law enforcement, I’ve never seen an executive supervise from the bottom up. Executives supervise from the top down.” The bottom up executive he was talking about was, of course, Tanaka.
Ultimately Jones and Conte went to bat for Gonzales, justifying their actions by explaining to the assistant sheriff the impracticality of transferring the lieutenant out since, frankly, few supervisors wanted to work custody, so replacing him would be difficult. Tanaka, while not pleased, backed off, at least for the moment.
And so, despite the fact that the guy at the top wanted to ax him, Gonzales said he kept on walking the 2000, 3000 and 4000 floors that the assistant sheriff had specifically told the supervisors to stay away from.
And he continued to grapple with worryingly high uses of force used by certain deputies on those floors. Gonzales told how one of his problem deputies was also a deputy who had concerned Sergeant Pollaro. “I began to question how much force he used,” Gonzales said, “because the injuries were rather serious. I’m talking broken jaws.”
After one of the broken jaw incidents, Gonzales said he interviewed the injured inmate, whose jaw was badly fractured and tremendously swollen—“just huge”—and learned that the man, a gangster in a high control unit, had been handcuffed at the time that the injury took place. “I didn’t deserve this,” the inmate reportedly told the lieutenant.
Gonzales was hardly naive to the fact that inmates frequently insist that they did nothing to warrant this or that kind of treatment. But he was troubled by the man’s unusual level of distress. “This was a hard core…gangbanger,” he told the commission members, meaning the type for whom stoicism in the face of injury is viewed as both a virtue and a necessity. “And you don’t see too many guys like that break down.”
Gonzales questioned the deputy about the injuries he inflicted, but the deputy claimed that in all instances, the violence was necessary. In the case of the handcuffed gangster, he contended that the man had charged him with the intention of head butting and that he struck the inmate out of concern for his personal safety.
Gonzales didn’t buy it. For one thing, such a handcuffed charge would have been willfully self-destructive. Moreover, the deputy was a big guy with lots of martial arts experience. Gonzales told a friend of the deputy’s that he should tell his buddy to dial it back for the good of his career. “I can’t prove it, but I know he’s using unreasonable force.” In other words, he was assaulting inmates.
In another instance, Gonzales walked up to the 4000 floor, where some of his frequent-use-of-force deputies worked, and he encountered one of his sergeants wielding a video camera, a look of discomfort on his face.
“I just caught deputy so-and-so beating an inmate,” Gonzales said the sergeant told him, explaining that he had come upon a group of deputies clustered around an elderly black inmate who was on the floor with his hands over his face, according to the sergeant, trying to protect his head, crying “What’d I do? What’d I do?” as one of the problem deputies slugged him repeatedly.
To stop the beating, the sergeant said he’d had to yank the deputy off the curled-up man. Then he told everyone to stay put while he went to get the camera with the intent of interviewing both deputies and inmate, but when he returned, the deputies had all conveniently vanished. By the time Gonzales pursued the matter, the deputies all told one uniform story about it being the inmate’s fault. Yet in this case, it wasn’t the usual inmate-versus-the-deputies situation. The sergeant’s account completely supported that of the beaten inmate, who pleaded that he’d done nothing to elicit the beating. Gonzales believed the sergeant and filed a report to that effect, and the deputy was eventually fired.
Yet, according to Gonzales’s testimony, it appeared that most of the questionable force cases went undisciplined, since few deputy witnesses broke ranks with their inmate-slugging colleagues.
An exception to this rule was a story Gonzales told regarding the jaw-breaking deputy he’d mentioned earlier. This time the beating incident resulted in a fractured cheekbone, and an injured ear and ribs.
Again, all the deputies involved told an indentical story of how the inmate’s injuries were either caused by other inmates or had been self-inflicted. The truth of the matter came out only when a deputy witness later applied for a job with another police agency (Gonzales said it was Riverside PD). As part of his job interview, he was given a polygraph test and asked if he’d ever lied on a police report. The deputy, whose name was Ryan Lopez, admitted that he had, in fact, once lied on a report. The lie occurred after he witnessed the cheekbone-fracturing assault on the inmate by three other deputies, and he had supported their version that no deputies were responsible. Lee Simoes, the jaw-breaker, plus Humberto Magallanes and Kenny Ramirez were subsequently fired. And, although criminal charges were filed, all three were given probation.
When Gonzales finished his testimony, Judge Baird asked who had questions. A couple of the commissioners wanted to know more about the power cliques and about the issue of Tanaka and the chain of command, which appeared to disturb both Judge Bonner and Judge Tevrizian in particular.
Bonner asked whether or not the power of the deputy cliques had diminished in Men’s Central Jail by the time Gonzales retired in 2007.
Gonzales said that it had helped when some of the “stronger personalities in those cliques eventually went to patrol in 2004, 2005.” However he had heard, he said, that several of the deputies had gotten themselves in trouble in their patrol assignments as well.
In general, he said, he felt “we had somewhat diminished the clique behavior. I was constantly on those floors, and my sergeants were on those floors. So, I think we had minimized it a bit…. But then Mr. Tanaka came in.”
At the Tanaka reference, Bonner brought up those two unusual meetings with the deputies and the supervisors.
”At least on its face,” the judge said, “it seems like a pretty extraordinary breech of the chain of command. I just wanted to ask you, Lt. Gonzales, in your 26 years with the Sheriff’s department, have you ever seen such a clear cut breech of the chain of command that would be in any way comparable to that situation that you described in February 2006?”
“No, sir, I never haven’t. Never.”
When it was Tevrizian’s turn, he asked Gonzales the same question that he had posed to Sergeant Pollaro: “From 2003 to 2007 how many times would you saw Sheriff Baca at the jail, when you were there?”
“Me personally? I never saw him.”
POST SCRIPT: THE INMATES AND THE COMMANDER
After Gonzales got up to leave, the commissioners broke for lunch. When they returned, they heard testimony from two men who had spent time in Men’s Central Jail, both of them working men who were sentenced to jail for under a year. (One was in for driving on a suspended license. The other did jail time for a misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon charge.) Both spoke articulately of being on the receiving end of deputy assaults and threats of additional violence by deputies should the men report the assaults. One told of having his $500 dental retainer destroyed by a deputy who allegedly tossed it on the floor and stomped it on an occasion when he didn’t feel the man had moved fast enough in some demanded action or other.
Their reports were highly specific and harrowing. When one of the witnesses, David Eiler, did file a complaint, despite admonitions not to, he said he was harassed verbally and physically by deputies, including being subjected to a very long, very public strip search while other deputies looked on and made cat calls. When he still did not withdraw the complaint, he told the commissioners he was transferred unaccountably to a high control unit, despite his low control inmate status. There he was approached by several gangster inmates who said they had been instructed by a custody assistant to “F-me up.” The inmates, with whom he said he’d previously gotten along, said they were not going to administer the beating then but made it clear that it was a one-time pass. “They told me, ‘You know what? Not everybody leaves county jail alive.’”
After the inmates finished their testimony, the commissioners took one more break, and then reconvened around 2 pm for testimony from the day’s final witness, retired Commander Robert Olmsted.
This last session would last nearly two-hours and would produce the most startling moments of the testimony to date.
PART III —The Commander— coming soon.
NOTE: For the uncorrected transcript of the meeting, go here. The testimony of the former inmates may be found on pagse 158-201. Recordings of the meetings may be found here.
Al: Many of us have come forward to bring light to an organization that most of us love. Let us pray that Baca and the thugs get removed and we can return to Commitment to Duty and Honor. Give my regards to the wife. Lastly, you still can’t jump! ha ha Semper Fi
When is Mr. Tanaka going to testify???
Al Gonzales may not be the most lovable kind of guy, but he’s a blunt, straight-forward man who leaves no doubt where he’s coming from. Take a dislike to parts of his personality if you will, but I applaud his efforts at CJ and his courage in cooperating with the commission. Lt. Gonzales’ testimony fortifies what all long time employees knew was going on since December 1998: Tanaka was acting like a malevolent bully, with impunity, because Baca was busying himself with what he considered more important, progressive and cerebral pursuits.
At Century and Lennox Stations, Tanaka smoked cigars in the parking lots in deputies-only meetings where he let them know they had a tough job and they had his extraordinary and eternal support. He also famously told his admiring troops that he thought Internal Affairs Investigators were A-holes and he would keep them in check. Tanaka instilled rebelliousness and arrogance in these deputies; made them feel like they were different from deputies who worked elsewhere (non-Region II stations). He divided the department into two camps: those in his car – the sycophants; and those who either wanted no part of the nepotism and the required fawning, or who tried to gain entry but could not make it in his nebulous world.
In a meeting in March 2009, Baca was asked if he approved of such discordant conduct by Tanaka; if he was aware of Tanaka’s profane references to Internal Affairs investigators. Baca told the 30 or so assembled that he asked “Mr. Tanaka” about the allegations and Tanaka said he did not recall making such statements. Baca concluded with, in essence, “Mr. Tanaka is a very hard-working, productive member of my executive team.” Really? Baca is flat-out lying when he says he is not aware of Tanaka’s outrageous conduct.
ELA, how will Baca and his thugs be removed? It is close to impossible to remove an incumbent. Baca will never remove Tanaka. This commission has no bite and the BOS has their hands tied. Even if the ACLU is successful in getting a consent decree, Baca and his right hand man Tanaka remain. The falls guys will be the line swine who drank the Koolaid and sold their souls. By the time all the legalities are adjudicated, Baca will have unfolded his master plan and hand over the Department to Tanaka. Baca sits back and laughs at all this and refers to himself as the Teflon Sheriff.
No Mercy: Have Faith! We can do this! I didn’t think that Trutanich would place third in the DA’s election but look what happened! Baca’s endorsement (I believe) cost Trutanich the election. Let’s see if Lacy or Jackson vie for Baca’s endorsement. If I wanted to win a local election I would denounce Baca. One thing is certain; giving up is not an option! Too many great men and women gave their lives and their names enshrined on our memorial to see their efforts go to the likes of Baca!
However this plays out, I think Baca handing the Department over to Tanaka, and certainly Tanaka being able to win an election, is the most unrealistic of scenarios. Regardless, I’ll take the optimism of ELA over this fatalistic “We’re stuck with these idiots that are in power” any day of the week. You can’t really talk about the power of incumbency in relation to this situation, because I really don’t believe there has ever been this much negative publicity about the sheriff and our Department, both in quantity and quality, in our history. And between the DOJ and other federal investigations, I think the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) is yet to come.
No Mercy for Tyrants, pay attention to what ELA tells you, he speaks the truth! For starters, Baca cannot hand the reigns over to anyone, that is done by the BOS. Word has it they hate Tanaka as much as they do Baca, so I don’t see that happening if our globe-trotting sheriff decides to pull the plug.
I had a good suspicion that Trutanich would not win, my only question was if he would squeek in the number two spot. We were all spared that problem, thank God! It’s important to learn some lessons that can be drawn from last week’s election. Trutanich was the proverbial front runner, incumbent LA City Attorney, all the endorsements up the kazoo, raised three times the amount of money the successful candidates did (Lacey and Jackson), had a substantial TV ad buy, and what did that get him? Diddly squat!
Mark my words, Baca’s fate will be the same as Trutanich! He has already hopelessly damaged both his name and the brand name of the department. He is currently on his fourth (and last) term in office, and outside of the small band of fools from South LA who follow Bishop Turner’s paid cheerleading, there are not that many stupid people left in LA county to vote for corrupt failure a fifth time.
The time for honoring Baca and his band of thugs is coming to an end.
Realistically, the public knows very little if any, about all this. Unless the facts go out to the masses through the main stream media the general public will vote for the incumbent. Baca knows this well. Yes, there will likely be Fed action, but the lackeys will fall on the sword. The unholy Trinity, Baca, Waldie and Tanaka remain insulated.
No Mercy, the same was said about Block when he faced three challengers in 2008. No one thought he could be defeated, but in the primary he only pulled in 36% of the vote, followed by Baca with 32%. The media coverage, scandals, and endless rounds of bad news were nothing compared to today’s coverage. You are also underestimating the impact of the 24/7 news cycle, social media, and the public’s weariness about corruption.
The only difference between Baca and Block is that Leroy will live to see his defeat…
I have been retired since 1996, having served 30 years with LASD…Can someone still with the dept. enlighten me as to what federal investigations may be down the road regarding our dept. or its brass.
Retired96: As you may know, the presidential election is a scant four months away and, at this moment, it is very much up in the air what the outcome may be. I would not be looking for any drastic moves from the U.S. Attorney that may very well be countermanded by a different occupant in the White House.
Baca is his own worst enemy right now but even if an opponent is able to unseat him in the next election, I am pessimistic on the prospects for change. Paul Tanaka has filled the ranks of the department’s leadership with so many of his cronies and imbued it with a culture tolerant of misconduct that it will be years before their influence is weeded out.
I don’t understand why a year or more after a lot of this started to break how Paul Tanaka is still in the same job. Obviously a deputy facing this many allegations would be minimally placed on some sort of admin leave (Bernice Abram style?). A private sector person would have been offered resignation in lieu of termination, or “early retirement”, “more time with their family” long ago. When you think soberly about it, it’s really very strange given all the allegations, across so many issues, that he’s still around. And when you consider the federal investigations, the jails commission, the media, the various bodies looking at these issues, and that everything seems to lead to the same one/two persons/people, well, it’s just very strange (and upsetting) that they haven’t pulled the pin. Because it’ll be much more humiliating for the department when active duty executives are indicted, or demoted, or not re-elected, than former ones.
And, let’s be clear. There is no way in Hell the sheriff will be re-elected next go ’round. The deputies don’t want him, the LA Times won’t endorse him, and all of this, every bit of it, will be rehashed in the LA Times and elsewhere, when the time comes. Politicians won’t take the political chance in supporting him (because why should they?); businessmen (even the shady Armenian/Glendale FOS’s) won’t bite because a bunch had their badges taken away and they don’t get take home Crown Vics anymore. Cynics may say I’m wrong but, if you soberly do the math, you’ll see the constituencies just aren’t there.
So, while things will get better, it’s all the more disheartening that our current leaders are delaying our better day.
10-33 Go: What you don’t understand can be explained in “The Firestone Syndrome” by Stephen P. Beeler–you do remember Firestone, don’t you?
The book can be Googled & ordered via Amazon.
The reason why everyone remains in place is because of dirt. Everyone has someone dirty, the Sheriff is tight with dirtbags who want to be Reserves, and do cuz they have money and influence.
Tanaka is right behind him. Just ask POST.
Cog: I sense that 10-33 go was being facetious!
Please dont mention that book. The guy is a straight poser who worked Firestone for less that two years.
Is the book we’re not mentioning fiction or a true story? Is it just another retired cop trying to be the new Joe Wambaugh? Is it just another retired cop trying to build his resume as a subject matter expert for his new endeavors?
The “True Crime” section at Barnes/Noble is full of books that are either bullshit or self promotional books by retired/former cops . The best example is the book that Louis Eppolito did. How’s that for ironic as he sits in his prison cell.
Maybe Tanaka will write a book, from his Federal prison cell.
Its easy for some commenters to predict that todays torrent of negative news over LASD jail operations will taint Sheriff Baca enough to make him unelectable to a 5th term of office.
The majority of voters in the next election cycle for Sheriff may recoil at voting for the incumbent Sheriff, but before Lee Baca is turned out of office – somebody will have to file qualifying papers to put their name on the ballot to challenge him.
The commission can spend the next two years taking shocking testimony about LASD jail mismanagement and institutionalized practice of civil rights violations.
This website can post a multitude of reports of shameful acts and practices committed by the jailers and link to a library of detailed documentation.
They can excoriate Tanaka day and night for promoting an outlaw culture of impunity among jailers and patrol level field deputies.
Despite any faked concern or hollow resolutions from Sheriff Baca, the attention payed Tanaka and trouble in the jails doesn’t bother him a bit.
Almost nothing can make Sheriff Baca happier than to see the critics and media focus to those troubled areas of his department.
Baca projects far reaching influence and wields immense power through control of detective operations.
By process of attrition, hiring and promotion over his 14 years as Sheriff – Baca has taken control of his own gang.
They may not leave people black and blue with bruises – but they can be misused to harass and destroy an individual, a business or an organization.
Prophet: I agree that Baca has ruined a many careers and individuals. But, the time for Baca to keep honoring himself is coming to an end. Who will run against Baca? Who knows but I guess it will be a interesting race. Who do you like?
I would like to see Michael Richardson run for the office of Sheriff of Los Angeles County.
i would also like to see if anyone can get a copy of video from the press event held at Sheriff Department Headquarters in Monterey Park on June 24, 2011 with Sheriff Lee Baca, Detective Quilmes Rodgriguez and Robert Klein.
I ask anyone to watch the video of this brief press event and then try to explain exactly what in the heck is going on!
The Sheriff Dept. is not going to help you get a copy. and they have effectively destroyed most or all of the internet links to any archived copies.
Prophet Mo, can you tell us what’s on the tape. I have no idea. Ok get ready folks, if you thought Seargeant al Gonzales was messed up and Sergeant Pollaro was a straight coward you have not seen anything yet. The big top announces, now coming to the stage, the one and only, should be in a mental institution, Captain Pat Maxwell. I hope they give him a drug test and a polly because he is gonna be a complete crazy person. I have to attend this one. He will be in a straight jacket before the day is out.
Profit, what was said at the news conference you spoke about?
Jacket, what is Captain Maxwell’s role? Is he making an appearance?
jack: odd that you would bad moth Maxwell. Wasn’t Maxwell Baca’s driver and Waldie’s right hand executioner? It will be interesting to hear what he says. As Maxwell was not only “in the car” but drove it for many years and saw first hand Baca’s BS. Is Max believable? we”l see!
Sounds like more LASD managers are coming forward. Things have gotten so bad that the ranks are breaking. Shine more light please. This is getting interesting. The Feds must be on to something…
Prophet os referring to the matrice Richardson tragedy. I believe Michael Richardson is matrice’s father. Jack, I doubt captain Maxwell will come forward since he is not retired.
A very reliable source within has verified Captain Maxwell will give testimony at the Jail Commission Hearings. Captain Maxwell advised his staff of his subpoena. Stay tuned sports fans
The web of connected leaders in the Sheriff’s Dept. does not end with Tanaka. Look at that link containing who and how much was donated for his campaign. The line of comrades behind him is long. Although I do see some change, I don’t expect drastic change from within the troops. Tanaka has been their General for so long and as maneuvered who and what is controlled very well. All his people from custody deputies to the top are in place.
Let’s see what happens…
Maxwell: Do what is right, like so many others, come forward and tell all you know. You know whose lives were destroyed and where the bones are buried. They tried to screw and ruin you,remember? Many years ago when you were a sgt I gave you a break because you told me the truth! Now, do it again!!
Michael Richardson is the father of Mitrice Richardson. If he ran for election to the office of Sheriff, the contest certainly would not be boring. Can you imagine a debate between Sheriff Baca and Michael Richardson? That would be fun.
Michael Richardson needs to run for Sheriff – or just admit that he was blowing real hard a bunch of bluster and heated air during the time between his daughter’s disappearance and the settlement of the civil suit.
Richardson staged himself making some bold and noisy claims. He vowed to come after those responsible for the death of his daughter. But it turns out that he is just another sunshine soldier and summertime attention hog.
Richardson bit off a big chunk, now he’s got to chew and declare for Sheriff or cut bait and wrap his long tail around his leg.
Richardson taunted. He made open-ended threats to go after those responsible. He painted his credibility into a corner.
The only way to earn it back is run for Sheriff.
Go after those responsible for Mitrice. Go after Lee Baca.
He is responsible. Sheriff Baca gets personally involved in very few cases. To the casual observer, there is no definable pattern or practice among them.
Maybe they bear some unique poignancy for the Sheriff?
Or they stir his deepest committment to defend the integrity and reputation of his department?
No. That is not why the Sheriff of the largest local agency in the country has personally interjected or intervened.
The Sheriff is motivated to save his own neck. That is what brings him into the batter’s box. That is what is truly important.
Baca’s actions in the Mitrice Richardson case serve a cover-up of deputies direct actions. Which serve as cover for Baca’s indirect actions as proximate cause contributing to her death. Criminal Negligence.
This commission is a bunch of b.s.
They are not going after Baca. They are working for Baca. They are protecting Baca. They are strengthening Baca.
This commission was created by the Board of Supervisors. They may occasionally criticize Sheriff Baca, but do they ever question any of his department’s request for reimbursement of special expenses?
Do they allow a plaintiff Sheriff Deputy claiming employment harassment to proceed to trial? A plaintiff claiming harassment following his candidacy challenging the incumbent Sheriff Baca for election.
No they don’t. The Board of Supervisors does not give the Sheriff an opportunity to prove his innocence in civil trial. They take almost one million dollars of taxpayers money and give it to the plaintiff as settlement.
When does the B.O.S. vote our money for settlement? Right after the filing period to challenge Sheriff Baca on the 2010 ballot has closed, that’s when.
Is this commission taking testimony in their quest to reform management of the County Jails?
Thats what we have been told.
It looks like they are more concerned with crafting Sheriff Baca’s defense should the civil suit proceed. The civil suit which the U.S. Supreme Court just refused request to halt.
They are calling testimony from the key players who will be called in that suit.
Whatever they tell the commission is what they will be stuck with. If they alter or expand in the future – their testimony before the commission will be offered in comparison to question credibility.
If they provide testimony to this commission which could be detrimental in the civil trial – then Baca’s attorneys have a huge head start in crafting the counter-argument or raising the threat level enough to discourage the witness from offering the same testimony at trial.
We are providing meeting space, parking, coffee, tea and pastries for four retired Federal judges vetting and crafting Lee Baca’s defense for his upcoming Federal trial.
That is flipping beautiful!!!
Prophet Mo Teff, you kinda lost me on your last comment. Regarding candidates for the upcoming race, I would hope the right people step up to the plate and challenge Mr. Moonbeam. By definition that would not include Richardson or Pat Gomez for many reasons.
The funniest part in this whole deal is that the entire command staff has hitched their wagon to a sinking ship. I’m sure there’s more than one aspiring sheriff in the lot who wants to rewrite the last ten years of their resume…
It maybe time to just talk over who would be a good sheriff? Who can most of us live with? Who is honest enough to make the changes required to turn the LASD ship around?
Celeste: who do think should run?
CASA, I don’t honestly know, just yet. I’d like to see who might emerge. But I’d love to hear what y’all think, as you are the on-the-ground experts.
For starters. I don’t think anyone from within the LASD is capable. Maybe a handful who have recently left who know the inner workings and command structure. Possible reformers:
Bob Olmstead. He has proven he can recognize organizational problems and has the courage to implement change. Knows about leadership and has integrity.
Sandy Hutchins. Unfortunately she currently holds the position as O.C. Sheriff. Knows the LASD workings and is an experienced reformer.
Tom Angel. Cared about the organization and people within.
Denny Dahlman. Former Assistant Sheriff. Always did what was right.
The BOS and people of L.A. County will be seeking someone of the likes of Bill Bratton. An outsider with a proven track record of implementing reform.
10-33: Sandy sold her soul a long time ago. Very poor investigative skills and intuition. Please recall that when she(and her future husband)shot the baby they were going to be indicted. But, she married the other suspect. Something that wasn’t brought out during her election. The Times ran a story at the time.
Dahlman: Hell no! he carried out many illegal activities ordered by Waldie. Dahlman gives the impression he’s honest but NOT!I saw it first hand. Then Dahlman’s private escapes would not make for a good sheriff. Good for novelas! Ask EB
I like Olmsted, Angel, Leyva. But who knows it would be difficult to find a perfect candidate; if there is such a thing!
What I don’t understand is that all the problems being talked about with the commission on the horrors in Central Jail, happened in 2003, almost ten years ago. Force in central jail is the lowest it’s been in twelve years. Talk about something current please. I would hate to see any outsider takeover, but I agree with you on Tom angel, and Denny Dalman, both great men. Angel is assistant chief at Burbank.
Al, good job. Hope they oust Tanaka. Tanaka should do what’s best for the Department and retire (along with Baca). Retire. Resign better yet Federal investigation. This would make a great book, maybe even a movie?
Sandy? just remember she was dead last on the list for OC sheriff and now she “is the Sheriff”.
Just another day in paradise, nothing really surprises me anymore .
Pat Gomez? Is he still trying to run for Sheriff? Got my vote Pat.
One last statement. NO! I did not get fired or resigned. I retired gracefully .
I vote Sheriff Baca and his current command staff, including Under Sherif Tankaka. They are really turning stuff around. Lets take advantage of this and make this department great again. All the stars are aligning….LASD is back on track! Thanks for you contribution Celeste! Your blog and coverage were instrumental in this..keep it going!
Sorry for the incorrect spelling. On the go! 🙂
I want to see a candidate with a vision for leading a break-up of LASD and formation of separate agencies.
This will require the involvement of the legislature in passing legislation or approving initiative for the ballot.
We need to reform the State Constitution to accomodate reform needed at the County Law and Justice level.
A basic approach could be creating three separately managed departments.
A sheriff dept for law enforcement and investigations.
A courts department to provide security at court facilities.
A custody department to manage all custody operations.
The head of each department could be an elective office or a term of appointment.
To LATBG – Lee Baca is named as defendant in a lawsuit brought by a former jail custody who claims he was purposely exposed by jailers to a a group of fellow inmates who assaulted him severely.
The plaintiff claims Baca is liable because he did nothing to reform the patterns and practices of jailers which constitute violation of civil rights.
Baca claims he was in the dark about conditions in the jail. Plaintiff got hold of an internal report detailing the improper practices. The report had technically deliverd to Baca prior to the date plaintiff was thrown to the dogs and shredded.
the point of comment #33:
the work done by the Commission taking testimony on the jails is an incredible resource for Baca to utilize in formulating his defense of the lawsuit mentioned above.
The quote from retired Federal Judge Tevrizian sounds like cross-examination of a prosecution witness by Baca’s defense attorney. At least Dickran Tevrizian understands the tacit purpose of his appointment to this commission.
Profit Motive, I think your name says it all. The sheriff’s department is in desperate need of new leadership, not destruction. I don’t think the voting public is going to buy into a candidate who’s vision is to break up the very thing they are proposing to lead.
Not only do you lose the economy of scale, you are creating three whole new bureaucracies with all the inherent problems associated with it. That means greater cost to taxpayers, and I doubt you will find supporters beyond the few who truly hate the department.
You are correct in one aspect, however. The state constitution needs to be reformed via the petition process to create term limits for sheriffs and district attorneys. Time and time again the fact there are no term limits has allowed corruption to fester in county government in both offices across the state. Baca and Corona are just the latest and most glaring examples.
What’s right are you being sarcastic or are you serious? Good, if Baca and Tanaka are trying to right the ship. There is too much damage for Baca to get my vote. He would have to remove Tall Paul and others on the fouth floor to show me he was serious about cleaning up the department.
Too Much Damage, there is no way in hell the very two people responsible for sinking the ship would be the ones in charge of righting it, it just doesn’t work that way.
The planets that are aligned according to What’s Right are all the asses he/she plans to kiss in the cigar club…
#41 What’s Right says:
“They are really turning stuff around. Lets take advantage of this and make this department great again”.
So, he/she admits that Baca has screwed things up. Why are they turning things around? Baca, according to #41, obviously had things headed in the wrong direction. There is no other way to explain that statement. If they weren’t headed the wrong direction they wouldn’t need to turn things around.
“make the department great again”
Once more, he/she admits that the department under the current leadership stopped being great.
Baca has been sheriff for 13 years.
Somebody from the 4th floor needs to get ahold of #41 and tell him/her to stfu.
If I was Baca or Tanaka, I would tell #41….
“You want to help me? Then quit typing on the blog and making me look bad. You’re trying to be sarcastic and cute but you’re saying things that make us and the LASD look bad. You’re not cute or smart. Shut up”.
To # 48:
I don’t want to help anyone. What’s going on in our department as far as reform is good. I also know that the current executive team is doing a great job. Just happy to see good change.
@ 1033-998, Are you kidding, Bob Olmstead? This guy is a snake. He is the reason why the department is going through all this crap. If he would have had the balls to do something when he was Captain or Commander over MCJ we would never be in this mess. Then he turns everything around and blames it on everybody else, what a punk! He is the only one to blame. He cries that no one would listen to him, including the Sheriff. He was a captain / commander on the Sheriff’s Department, he could have made any changes he saw fit to solve any of the problems. He chose not too and in fact, embraced the deputies on 2000 and 3000. He often gave them praise for doing a good job and spent hours talking with deputies on the floors on a personal level. Rightfully so, most of the deputies on 2000 and 3000 were/are excellent deputies and do an outstanding job. Deputies always thought Bob Olmstead truly cared for them and supported their work ethic. It’s obvious he doesn’t. He is a disgraceful back stabbing hypocrite who deserves nothing.
Hey what does anyone think about Bernice Abrams running for Sheriff? I worked with her and thought she did a great job.
Who cares if she got caught up on a wiretap. Look at the douche bag Holter who just got a vote of contempt and still struts his criminal behavior.
This country thrives on unethical standards, “pats on the butt” and lie under oath. Who really cares about the crap in LASD. I don’t live in the county, not patrolled by them or really care much about the smoke an mirrors you all keep holding onto.
I got mine, and and that’s all that matters. I pity you “professed prophets” who think you have the inside track on what really has happened, what will happen, and who’s gonna hump tommorrow’s leg.
oh btw, all you boys and girls who’s MOU is about to expire. You’ll wish you had retired cuz there is going to be a big word in everyone’s vocabulary “concessions”. And my oh my will your Lacera highest annual salary be in jeopardy. But what do I know. Just ask some of your compadre cities who have given up hundreds each month.
M.Chavez: You make to much sense for this blog. Didn’t you know? The Sheriff and Undersheriff our responsible for this debacle (Not!!)
M. Chavez must have received a competent evaluation from Bob Olmstead while he was employeed. He sounds like another inept County employee who wants something for nothing.
Ok, fellas, calm down. If you never worked with Bob Olmstead don’t talk to much crap please. I don’t know if what happened near the end of his career is true, but he was a great cop, sergeant, and lt. As to maxwell testifying, he will be skating on very thin ice. He has major character flaws. Let’s see he got promoted to sergeant after actually committing crimes when he worked Lennox. He gets promoted to Lt. And gets another Lt. Removed from SEB so he can get to SEB, thanks to waldie. He was hated at SEB, and committed criminal acts there like drowning a guy with a helicopter and bragged how he was protected. Then he leaves SEB under a very big cloud, goes to Norwalk and goes to City. Council and butters them up so Captain Webb, gets rolled up so he can be the Captain because remember, Contract Cities have a lot of say. And now he is going to testify what’s wrong with the department. It’s drunks like him who put us where we are. I can’t wait to read what he says, boy will that be a comedy show. Who knows a few of his skeletons may show up, maybe K-9 at SEB
BadtoWorse, I made the correction for you.
(However, I did think the accusation that someone has ” major character floors” was an intriguing statement in its own right. I ‘ve committed some real howlers sometimes, courtesy of autocorrect, when I text.)
I hope Pat doesn’t see bad to worse’s comment. I suspect, knowing him personally, he will have a buddy from high tech crimes hack this site and do a reverse IP on mister bad to worse and find out who this department member is. All under the silence of this blog. It can be done without a warrant as long as no one knows, and no one will know…… 240 david bye
Othr than that, what’s going on with Louie Duran and Aero? Another blip on the screen with no follow up. Thought there was a 30 day turnaround with the Board and a DA review. More hyped crap as usual. Haven’t seen anything Celeste. This was reported months ago. Can you update us on this issue? Thanks
Further to follow, I could not care less. Tell me one thing I said that is not true