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Burrito Deputy’s Academy Problems the Tip o’ Iceberg According to 2007 Report

Much has been made about the fact that L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Henry Marin,
who is charged with smuggling a heroin-crammed burrito into a courthouse jail, may have been a less-than ideal prospect for the Sheriff Department—at least according to his bumbling and inattentive performance on the Fox reality show “The Academy.” The show, which began airing in May 2007, followed two different classes of Sheriff’s Department recruits through their training process. Marin, it turned out, did so badly he was cut from the first class of recruits after a televised failure to pay attention in a crucial exercise. Later Marin was given another chance—and was able to join the department. (The LA Times has more on Marin and his ill fated career as a reality star.)

His poor performance as an LASD recruit, combined with his recent arrest for alleged drug smuggling, has caused questions to be raised about the efficacy of the department’s screening and training of young deputies who, right after graduation, are assigned custody duty in one of the the county’s troubled jails.

The concern may be well founded. WitnessLA has learned that, in June and July of 2007, shortly after Marin was expelled from his training class, the state Commission on Peace Officers Standards & Training (POST), the agency that certifies law enforcement academies, visited the Sheriff’s Academy to make its annual report—and it was a doozy.

What they found and documented in their confidential 29-page report (which was, at the time, obtained by the Daily News) was so alarming that, in May 2008, Sheriff Lee Baca took the unprecedented step of shutting down the training academy for a full month so that the department could address the problems.

Among the violations that POST inspectors documented, according to the Daily News story, were instances of instructors giving cadets the answers to test questions, and allowing cadets to take driving tests and other physical exams multiple times, until they could finally pass—all of which is strictly against state guidelines.

“Significant test security issues were identified during the certification review,” the authors wrote. “In one instance, the (training officers) staff was reportedly directed to take a test into the classroom and give the answers to the students.”

The report also said inspectors heard anecdotal reports about students who were not required to pass the physical-conditioning sessions and who failed firearms and driving tests and were retested multiple times.

Remember, it is these same poorly prepared cadets from the 2007-2008 classes who were funneled directly into guarding the jails, where they often received inadequate supervision. Worse, as WitnessLA has documented in Matt Fleischer’s Dangerous Jails series, when strong supervisors attempted to step in and give the young deputies firm boundaries—or tried to sanction them when they misbehaved—force reports were neglected and reform-minded supervisors were asked by command staff to back off.


  • And all the supervisors in Backgrounds, who were disqualify unacceptable candidates, were removed by Paul Tanaka and sent to the cornfields because they were holding back “The Sheriff’s dream,” of a massive hire. So in typical Tanaka style, the very supervisors who were simply doing their job and maintaing a “standard,” were labeled as being a problem, and transferred. And what is there to show, Tanaka hired a bunch of idiots that should have been rejected, good people (once again, “Paul,”) have been punished for doing their jobs the way an organization of “standards” would expect them to, all the people behind the Background Unit rubber stamp hiring process have been promoted while LASD has been repeatedly embarrassed by these fools from day one of filming “The Academy” to today’s LA Times article about the cellphone deputy. Yes, “Paul,” you are one fabulous leader. I suspect we will be reading much more about you and your “values.” See you around the HQ Building.

  • Test answers being given and multiple tests being given until unqualified people can pass them? Standards being lowered?
    Welcome to the world of political correctness, where diversity is the most important factor in hiring people. In this world we have come to embrace, whatever is necessary to get some people to pass the tests and get them on the job is done.
    When you are more concerned with what your department looks like, instead of how they perform, this is what you get.
    No surprise what’s happening here.
    When you put form ahead of substance, this is the consequence.

  • Lt. Roland Choi was demoted to sergeant for his role in compromising test scores at the Academy. Now he a lieutenant again and has landed a coveted position, again. He of course, is personal friends with Paul Tanaka, enough said.

  • When I was hired in the 60’s, The training staff told us that for every 100 completed applications submitted for employment as a deputy sheriff, only 3 cadets graduated from the academy and went on to an actual assignment.(on average) Those applications were either 13 or 17 pages in length.

    I wonder what the current graduation rate is??

  • Wasn’t Oscar Rodriguez the Deputy arrested for lewd acts with a child. Also, the same person from LAX court, that was named and implicated in the Heroin burrito incident with Marin?

  • I know from personal experience the LAPD rate from application to graduation is about 1 to 2 out of a 100. The CHP is about the same. The LASD is the same. I know or have known background investigators from all of the above agencies and that is what they had told me personally. You would be surprised what these investigators have dug up about applicants.. lying on applications, felonies , sex with animals ! sexual harassment issues etc. can’t pass a lie detector test, etc. Most officers and deputy that I have come in contact with in my life have been great people…

  • The reason for all of the test fixing at the Los Angeles Sheriff Department Academy coming to light, was due to Lt. Roland Choi’s excess amount of test fixing for his girlfriend’s sister Deputy Pauline Elida Valdivia.
    Deputy Pauline Elida Valdivia had received below standard reviews and had Double Tapped on multiple Sheriff Academy tests, but was allowed to continue by Lt. Roland Choi. Lt. Roland Choi would intentionally lower test scores to allow Deputy Pauline Elida Valdivia to continue with the Academy while justifying his actions to academy D.I.’s that expressed concern that the department had a “Female Shortage.”
    Once it was discovered by a fellow Deputy that Deputy Pauline Elida Valdivia had a close relationship with Lt. Roland Choi, an Investigation was conducted at the State Level which uncovered a massive amount of test fixing in the Los Angeles Sheriff Department Academy. Lt. Roland Choi was demoted to Sergeant, and Deputy Pauline Elida Valdivia was forced to resign as she had already graduated POST once the investigation had concluded.

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