2014 Election LA County Jail LASD Sheriff Lee Baca

Former LASD Commander & Corruption Whistleblower Bob Olmsted Announces Entry Into LA Sheriff’s Race


On Wednesday morning, retired commander Robert Olmsted, 62, formally announced that he is running for LA County Sheriff against incumbent Lee Baca.

His candidacy was preceded by an LA Times editorial published two weeks ago, asking Baca not to run again, and calling for “a competent, experienced challenger” to “step forward to run a serious campaign against [Baca].

Then this past Saturday, LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina wrote a harshly worded LA Times Op Ed urging voters to “fire” the sheriff.

“Now is the time for the right challenger to step up and run against Baca in 2014,” Molina wrote. “What’s required is integrity and courage.”

Olmsted hopes to be that challenger.

Also running thus far are retired LASD lieutenant Patrick Gomez, who has unsuccessfully challenged Baca before, in 1998 and in 2002, and LAPD Detective Lou Vince.

(It is strongly rumored that former undersheriff Paul Tanaka too is planning to run, but he has yet to declare.)


Olmsted’s name first came to be known to those outside the LASD in the fall of 2011 when the scandals alleging excessive force and corruption inside the LA County jail system were just beginning to heat up, and word of an expanding FBI investigation into department wrongdoing had become public.

Prior to retiring from the LASD in fall 2010 following his wife’s death from cancer, Olmsted—-a highly-regarded law enforcement veteran of 32 years—had served as commander over a cluster of the department’s largest and most troubled jail facilities, including Men’s Central Jail, where he had attempted to institute reforms. Along with another jails commander, he had even triggered three reports that documented alarming patterns of improperly investigated excessive force inside the jails, all of which the higher-ups allegedly either dismissed or ignored.

After his retirement, Olmsted continued to be distressed by what he saw as Baca’s repeated unwillingness to deal with the causes of the growing problems plaguing the department, and then-assistant sheriff Paul Tanaka’s seeming aversion to any needed reform in the jails.

Finally, after reportedly trying once more to get the the sheriff to take meaningful action, the commander went to the press.

The department brass were predictably un-pleased with Olmsted’s whistleblowing, and launched a bizarre investigation that purported to look into the former commander’s claims, but seemed mostly aimed at discrediting him.

It did not succeed. In fact, when Olmsted appeared before the Citizens’ Commission for Jail Violence in May of last year, even after months of hearings, it was his lengthy and detailed testimony that seemed to most disturb and anger the seven commission members (two of whom actually began to applaud when he finished, then quickly caught themselves).

For nearly a year following the commission’s report, people from both inside and outside the sheriff’s department reportedly tried to talk Olmsted into considering a run against Baca, but he had demurred assuming that another candidate would emerge who was willing to face the big bucks fundraising and strategic campaigning that a serious challenge would require.

When no one surfaced, Olmsted did several weeks of soul searching, then decided to run.

“I’ve always felt that when you name a problem, you own it until it’s fixed,” he said.

Friends say Olmsted is now fully committed. “He knows what it’s going to take, and he’s all in,” said one. He even has his first ad up on YouTube.

The former commander’s campaign motto is Olmsted Instead.


WitnessLA spoke with Olmsted on Tuesday about why he decided to enter the race, and why he believes he’s the right guy for the job.

WLA: Okay, first things first: Why are you running?

Robert Olmsted: If there’s ever a time to run for sheriff, it’s now. For the last five years the current administration has been in turmoil. You read about it constantly in the paper. There is gross mismanagement, a lack of accountability. The problems spill into patrol and into custody.

Someone has to stand up and have the courage to do the right thing and bring to the department a new sense of leadership. I’ve got the passion to do it.

WLA: Why do you feel you’re the right person for the job?

RO: Well, when all the problems in the jails began popping up, I went all the way up the command staff to the sheriff several times to make some changes, and I found that no one would address anything.

So, I took it outside the organization [to the press.]. I’d like to think that I did it for the right reasons, which was to make the department better and to serve the community.

WLA: For a long time you said you wouldn’t run for sheriff when people asked. What caused you to change your mind?

RO: I was really ready and willing to support [Long Beach Chief of Police Jim] McDonnell when he was planning to run for sheriff, because I knew we needed a change. But then McDonnell didn’t run. We still have all these problems and no one was stepping forward to do anything about them. So I feel compelled to say I’ll give it a try. I’ll go ahead and make the changes that are necessary to get us where we need to be.

I’m second-generation deputy sheriff and my son wants to join the department. I want to leave a good legacy.

WLA: You’re up against an incumbent sheriff who tells us that he’s fixing everything. So why shouldn’t we vote for Lee Baca again?

RO: He can say he’s fixing it, but the fact that he’s spent the last few years travelling the world with all these problems going on at home, that’s a failure of leadership. And now we’re having to bring in new people from outside the department for oversight, such as the new Inspector General [that the Board of Supervisors plans to appoint, as recommended by the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence].

Plus we’ve got federal indictments coming down in the next five months, according to the U.S. Attorney. And we don’t know how high those indictments will go up the chain of command.

So the sheriff says he’s got everything handled, but we know these investigations are still getting bigger. Now we’ve got sex scandals. Cheating scandals. Use of force problems. I could go on and on. And it’s all about mismanagement and corruption at the upper levels of our department, because they’ve allowed the deputies below them to see corrupt behavior as the standard mode of operation.

WLA: A lot of press attention has been paid to the problems in the jails, but many LA County voters don’t see the jail scandals as affecting them personally. What would you say to them?

RO: Well, we have to change the culture in the jails, because the young men and women coming out of the academy get inculcated with this negative jail culture, and then they bring that point of view with them when they’re transferred out to patrol.

A graphic example is what’s going on out in Palmdale and the Antelope Valley. If you read the 50-page DOJ [Department of Justice] report, it talks about abuse, the beating of handcuffed suspects, the lack of accountability and lack of supervisory oversight. Those are he exact same things that occurred in the jail setting. And this is exactly what we need to correct—in the jails and in patrol. It’s the same issue.

What we need to do is to get back to the nobility of policing. To do that, we have to make sure that we hire the right people, and give them the right supervision. This also means we have to promote the right people, people who have integrity and ethics.

And, let me make it clear, I don’t blame the men and women on the department for our problems. What I blame is the lack of sound leadership.

WLA: Can you be more specific about what you believe needs to change in the style of leadership?

RO: If you read the reports [of the Jails Commission and the DOJ report], you see supervisors who failed to do their jobs, and to hold people accountable. You need the right supervision to make sure that if there is some misconduct that it’s immediately addressed, that it’s shifted in a positive direction.

When I was at Men’s Central Jail, I demanded that my leaders walk around constantly. I did the same thing. You have to expect good behavior, but you also need to inspect what you expect. If you don’t, you’re not doing your job as a leader.

WLA: What will be your biggest challenges, if you’re elected.

RO: Well, these are positive challenges, not negative challenges. But it’ll be a challenge to reach out to all the constituents and talk with them about how they see what needs to get done. We need a stakeholders’ meeting.

We also need to create transparency. So, I’d plan an open media day once a month, like Sheriff Block used to have. Every last Wednesday of the month at 10 am, he’d invite the media in. What a great way to open up a sense of transparency and to address any particular problems!

And that’s just with the media, but you can use the exact same concept with the rest of the community.

WLA: Do you have other plans for the future of the department?

RO: Most of all, we need to get back to what we’re supposed to be doing: custody, patrol, the courts and transportation—those are the operations that we’re mandated to do by law. Before we can think about the future, we have to get back to the basics and do those well.

Instead, the jails have been in turmoil. Patrol is in turmoil, as we’ve seen with the current lawsuits. There is mismanagement and corruption and a bunch of other things that are bringing these federal investigations.

Our house is out of control. Somebody needs to put their foot on the brake, and re-instill integrity, pride and nobility in what we’re mandated to do.

I really believe if anybody can do it, it’s gonna be me.


  • “Back to the Basics” was the same platform Jernigan used in his last run at Sheriff .

    Paul L. Jernigan Jr for Sheriff “It’s time for a fresh start”

  • Good luck and God Speed! Great video, now lets get them on TV. Time to raise the $$$ boys and girls so we can do that!!

    Side note, I would have paid good money to see Whitmore’s reaction. I’m sure I will see his catipillars soon on some form of media…..

    OI 2014!!

  • Wishing you well. Can only hope when Baca starts slinging S— all the people who he has allowed to be miss handled by his current admin are willing to step forward. If they can’t because of retaliation those who investigate could find them on the on the court dockets/law suits.

    At least with Mr Olmsted he has history all the way up in management . He would not have to bring in “advisors” to help him negotiate management he is not familiar with. Like him or not give him a chance to speak his mind, he stood up and we didn’t.

  • We are in a war for the very soul of this organization! The choices are only two: One, we can continue on the road we are on which has led us to near destruction of the life and blood we have shed! Next, we can show the good people of our cities that we are not afraid and will not cow down to the likes of Baca or any other gangster that tries to make us kneel!

    Go get em Bob and Pat!!

  • Outstanding Bob! You have my full support. A new sheriff is on the horizon….BOB OLMSTED…long overdue for what once was a great Department.

  • Well this is refreshing news. He also forgot to mention there are other negative issues that need to be addressed in another division besides custody and patrol.

    Great news. Hopefully someone recovered the missing M-16 too.

  • Bob, you have so many current and retired supporters — just let us know what you need in assistance to get the job done. Thank you for your courage!

  • I have known Bob for many years. He was one of my Mentors, and I too stand along side all of his supporters. Thanks Bob, now lets get the show on the road. I am ready to fundraise.

  • I must admit, I was losing hope in what once was THE BEST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY IN THE WORLD. Thank you Bob, I see light at the end of the tunnel. You are the person with courage and true Leadership. You can honestly and without hesitation say “DO THE RIGHT THING”
    You have mine and my family’s full support, and yes we live in La County….

  • wow,what a great thing you are doing for the Department.You’ve got my vote and support.I will volunteer for your campaign.contact me thru Johnny..congrats on wanting to make a big better difference.

  • Great way to kick a campaign off. Bob, it’s time to clean house. Looking forward to helping your campaign

  • How can he run the department? He couldn’t run CJ. He let a bunch of gangster deputies overrun the place. He did nothing until the heat was on when he made commander. Then he downs several drinks and tries to approach the Sheriff at party. Great move.

  • Dear Bob, After you are elected, please speak to the media yourself. I didn’t care much for the Sheriff using Whitmore in place of his own voice, or to go hide to avoid questions. And please use more Deputies to address the media regarding crime reporting; like they used to do at HQ. No civilian spokespersons! Thank You, Sheriff Olmstead…

  • We need new life blood in this place. Bob, Lets do this. Anything to help with, I’m there.

  • I wish Olmsted and Tanaka well. Both would be GREAT Sheriff’s.May the best man win.

    The only thing I ask is…

    Please BEAT the Sheriff in 2014!

  • Gee, I wonder who this left wing web site is endorsing for Sheriff???? At least be balanced Celeste. Your article is so biased, it is pitiful. A high school newspaper reporter wouldn’t even be so obvious on who you support. Nice work! I believe LB should be replaced also, but my GOD don’ t be Olmsted’s personal campaign web site. Sloppy journalism!!

  • I agree with Cigar. Bob, should you get elected please do your own talking to the press and/or citizens. Baca and Tanaka must have felt it was beneath them to talk to the citizens or the press! Go get em Bob!!


    He spoke out when he retired, just like Tanaka did. Why is he placed on a pedestal? AND he failed to do his job in order to be liked. Pathetic and VERY INEFFECTIVE.


  • Bob was the captain at men’s central jail and then a commander of custody yet he couldn’t take charge. He was quick to point his finger at Tanaka and baca but how about taking some responsibility and admit you failed. You were directly in charge of mcj as a capt and commander but you are telling the public your hands were tied. Who are you fooling??

  • I’m trying to understand something.
    This is the same Bob who is going on about the all the issues in the jails? Anybody talk to his partners or trainees when he worked FPK? Well I guess that was 30 years ago so it how he was then doesn’t count anymore. He probably sees things in a different light, now. If things were so bad at MCJ when he was the captain there and then the area commander, and he was so rebuffed, blown off, why didn’t he go to the BOS, media, FEDS then? Why did he wait until he got asked? Where’s the leadership in that?

  • Did anybody notice the folks on his video? 1 of them has been an angry man for some years and did well for himself in his lawsuit against the department. 1 of the others, well if you know him, then ’nuff said.

  • Olmsted is going to create an atmosphere of whistleblowing which we not need. Lets try Paul Jernigan. A truly honest individual who cares about the Department and is not involved in the Politcs. Most know that before Olmstead found God, he was no different than any of the folks he now denounces. If anyone has seen the Youtube video for the Olmsted campaign, they saw the likes of Joaquin “The Cryptkeeper” Herran and Alex “LASPA” Villanueva. Stellar Cops, no way. This election is going to be a three ring circus.

  • Isn’t the female in the video at 1: 06 the female actor from Napoleon Dynamite? Since he is retired, did he obtain permission to wear that raid jacket prior to the filming?

  • You Tanaka supporters are so pathetic and predictable, but I will give you this, you are loyal! Too bad you share one brain. Were you guys all sitting in the same room when you decided to bomb on this blog?

    @19 “Remember CJ”: What are you, new? Apparently you’ve never tried to get something done on this department that was not popular with Baca, Tanaka or their cronies. If they don’t like it, it doesn’t happen. And, how do you control Deputies who have been given permission to violate the chain of command.

    @23 “Roy Bean”: Why is this sloppy journalism? Because they don’t appear to be on Tanaka’s side. Another berating remark out of childish anger. Whether you like it or not the media, and the like, almost always pick a side. Your just angry because they didn’t pick yours!

    @25 “DS B1”: This one is too easy! What you fail to address is that Tanaka was in “control” of the things of which he is now “outing” about Baca. Everyone knows Tanaka was running the show. He needs to own his mistakes. There is a “gauntlet” B/T Commander and Sheriff, who do you have to go through when your Undersheriff? I’ll wait for an answer! Oh, and another question, since you brought it up, do you think the City of Gardena cares that their Mayor lives in Chino Hills. That’s not only out of their city that is also out of the county. I hope Tanaka is smart enough to relocate, “for political gain!”

    @26 “mikej”: See commentary to #19

    @27 “Old side”: Funny you should ask. I have spoken to many people who worked with him at FPK, all positive comments. Enlighten me with some of the FPK stuff of which I have not been told. I’ll wait! I’m already waiting for #25 anyway!

    @29/30 “No whistleblowers”: There already is an atmosphere of “whistleblowers.” The difference is they only tell Tanaka when someone isn’t preaching his BS or falling into “lock step.” Gone are the days of handling stuff “in house” because if it isn’t their way, it’s the highway! And, as far as permission for the raid jacket, your just nit picking now, but lets address that, I hope I never have to count on your observation skills. Did you see “Los Angeles County” anywhere on those jackets or on the star on the jacket. LA County Sheriff’s Department doesn’t own the “generic star” and the name “Sheriff!”

    I wish you Tanaka supporters would blog more intelligently, because it gets old disputing your BS.

  • For those of you knocking retired Commander Olmstead for not doing something about the deputies abusing prisoners in the jails, let me advise you that a captain has limited authority and a commander even less because he is a laison between facilities and the chief. The bottom line is that if a chief does not want to rock the boat, nothing is done and in many cases that is exactly what happened. The chiefs did not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the assistant sheriffs and undersheriff. As we all know, Tanaka was running the department for the last five years while he set in place individuals who would back him in his run for sheriff. Baca must go because he is accountable and responsible for the mess. As we all know, he was not doing his job and still isen’t. At a recent meeting that he had with captains, he discussed how “we must all stick together,” and went on for ten minutes discussing budget issues and two hours discussing his philosophy for running the department, ugh.

  • Looking at the Video, skull crusher Bob (from the FPK days) is wearing a Dept raid jacket. He coveted the center with a black patch. The female is the Napoleon Dynamite actress Tina Majorino. Great job Bob, vote for Pedro.

  • Add, that when Olmsted went to then Chief Burns to report the misconduct Burns went into a tirade about that this was the culture of deputies. In fact, just telling Olmsted that he (Burns) wasn’t going to do anything and Tanaka won’t go for it! This was even documented in a Times article. Shortly after Burns retires?/ Go figure!!Bob was never called ‘skull crusher’ at FPK and you weren’t there! Ask Tanaka what his moniker was after he killed the unarmed Korean motorist??

  • Bob O. has done his share of beating over the years. Because one says he has found God for redemption does not wash his sons from the past.

  • B.O. Stinks! Ask him about his morals before he found Jesus when the illness surfaced in his family. I have to be vague to avoid the censor, but you get my drift.

  • @39 “Remember CJ”: once again, not to be cold, but what does Olmsted’s alleged moral conduct, on a personal family issue, have to do with how he would run the department.

    What you are accusing him of isn’t against the law, just saying since you want to point out morals. How does that match up against one persons “alleged” domestic violence, promoting people who helped you with your Mayoral campaign, that has nothing to do with our department, lying to the public about where you really live so that you can rule a city, speaking to subordinates with no respect and treating them like children and stalling peoples careers when they don’t agree with you. That’s the kind of moral conduct that troubles me. I couldn’t care less about what he does at home, as long as it’s not criminal and he doesn’t bring it to the office.

    And, as far as getting your drift, you Tanaka advocates all talk like an unintelligent Public Defender, “lets forget about the wrong doings of my client and talk about how the arresting officer fudged on his patrol log times which clearly shows his propensity for lying which means he probably planted that dope on my client,” get my drift?

    I’m still waiting for an intelligent rebuttal from one of you guys, but believe me I will not be holding my breath!

  • I worked with Olmsted at FPK. He has ALWAYS been a stand up guy. No BS, no false bravado, no silly games. One hell of a great street cop and one hell of a leader. He is the real deal. The Ta-NOT-Ka crowd is just going to have to deal with it.

  • #31 HUH. Guess Bob’s old trainees and partners that I spoke to aren’t Bob supporters. As for, “No whistleblowers”, hasn’t Bob been a significant to the whistleblowing with CCJV?
    #33. A captain has limited authority? Hat’s not bee n my experience.
    #36. Your quoting documentation in the L.A. Times as a valid source of information? Their fighting fo financial survival. They’re less dependable now than they ever have been before.
    #38. I have to agree based some of those who were around him back in the day. I always find it interesting when I run into someone who has joined the God Squad and they’ve forgotten how hey used to operate.
    #40. A lot of people posting here have inferred a lot about others moral conduct. Isn’t moral conduct what’s gotten some department people into trouble recently?

  • HUH!#40 – “What does Olmsted’s alleged moral conduct have to do with running the department”. “I couldn’t care less about what he does as long as it’s not criminal”.

    You are obviously one of the elderly, white boys club members left over from the Sherman Block era. Your days have passed. We care about morals these days. I don’t want a Sheriff that is just not a criminal. We don’t want to go back to your days of discriminating against people of color because it wasn’t criminal. We don’t want you telling us women are too weak to work patrol because it is not criminal to do so. We want someone with morals and courage. We don’t want to wait for Olmsted to have a few drinks to get his courage up to talk to the Sheriff about a problem. He should have taken action as a Captain, and done it on duty. Don’t wait for a party to discuss business with the Sheriff. The whole CJ mess started with Olmsted.

  • @43-Ok enough of the Capt, should have done something. EVERYONE knows Tanaka adopted MCJ as his Region II custody base. He made IT VERY CLEAR that was his place. Sad part was he made it clear to the deputies, and they in turn made it clear to the supervision. Mr. T reinforced this with his “you shall coddle them” speech.
    He chose the line supervisors and even the Ops LT. who later became the Capt. (now relieved of duty?) I am sure Mr. Olmsted was made aware of this.
    Now as far the Commander taking action, reflect for a moment, you write Captain Memo’s and Chief Memo’s, you never write Commander memo’s. They exist but they don’t, so power down.
    As a final note, Mr. T did not sound the alarm until after he retired, so taken as face value how is that different than Mr. Olmsted?
    Settle down, make your points, but don’t throw mud and BS. Far to many people know what went on for six or seven years.

  • No surprise, you sure are full of surprises! You claim the whole CJ mess started with Olmsted, but last time I checked the ones being roasted by the CCJV were Baca and Tanaka, the dynamic duo. It seems like you changed your name again, and keep trying that worn out bogus argument about old white guys and discrimination.

    The only discrimination that has been celebrated out in the open in the last decade has been the one practiced by Baca and Tanaka, and it’s known as loyalty-based discrimination, aka cronyism.

    For a primer on the subject refer to Exhibit A, the photo of all the individuals with shades standing behind Tanaka with grim looks on their faces. Kind of makes you wonder what’s going through their minds as the camera rolls, like “I have nothing coming if Tall Paul loses, so I’m in for another rank!”

    And speaking of legal issues, what is a confidential employee of the sheriff, the director of personnel, doing standing behind Tanaka? Did Captain Hebert resign? My oh my, what a tangled web we weave when we deceive!

    I have to contrast the mug lineup of Tanaka’s announcement with the refreshingly honest video clip from Olmsted’s announcement. A picture is worth a thousand words….

  • @43 “No Surprise”: I wouldn’t want you investigating a crime where I am a victim, because you are so far off as to who I am and my point, that I am embarrassed for you and your assumptions! If you carefully read my commentary I am comparing Olmsted’s alleged “moral” conduct to what you Baca/Tanaka supporters want to refer to as appalling behavior. Yet it is ok to abuse department funds, wander around the world while your department falls apart, treat your subordinates like children, retaliate against people who don’t see things your way (or have the guts to stick up to you), lie to the public as to your true residence, lie to a grand jury….Etc Etc!

    Do yourself a favor, don’t post anymore or at least think carefully before you do, because you embarrassing me in front of Celeste and the rest of the journalists who might assume all Cops aren’t clear thinkers.

  • No Surprise-
    I hate to pile on, because your silliness has been pretty well refuted with reasoned discussion (please take note on how that is done if you’re going to continue to post), but I do have a couple requests to make. Stop doing that thing where you try to make your speculative b/s become a fact if you repeat it enough times. Olmsted was drinking when he talked to Baca about the CJ problems? Did you witness this conversation? Have anything to support this assertion other than your repetitive statements? No? Or that the CJ problems started with Olmsted? All the evidence brought out by the CCJV shows the exact opposite, Olmsted actually tried to fix the problem. That’s not my unsupported assertion (you see what I’m doing here, right?), it’s supported by pages of evidence gathered over several months of investigation, feel free to read the report, makes fascinating reading. And spare me the “it was all a politically motivated witchhunt” accusation you Tanaka supporters like to throw out. They didn’t form this commission to go after Tanaka. The evidence just led them there, is all.
    Finally, and I’m just curious, is it old guys you don’t like, white guys, or just guys in general? Do all three characteristics have to be present for you to feel ok disparaging the entire group, or would you denigrate old guys of any race or white guys of any age with equal disdain? How about old white folks of either gender? Just curious how wide the net is you like to cast.

  • I’m surprised that Baca’s close ties to the Church of Scientology (he’s attending their gala tonight) aren’t more of an election issue, especially given that the Baca-led LASD ‘investigation’ into whistleblowing, which morphed into an investigation of Olmstead, sounds very much like Scientology ‘Black PR’ and ‘Fair Game’ campaigns. It appears Baca has learned the nasty tricks of the trade employed by Scientologists against perceived enemies and is implementing them in the Sheriff’s Dept.

    It might be that Baca’s support for Scientology is all about access to celebrities. Even so, the possibility that the sheriff is allowing a group with a reputation for human rights abuses, fraud and criminal activity to have undue influence over a law enforcement agency is a legit concern that voters have a right to be made aware of.

  • From an old Sheriff: Since the day EW Biscailuz pinned my gold star on my chest I have worn it proudly. Then along came a second class Cop and hustling politication named Baca. We need a true cop back in control. Bob Olmsted fills the bill of being a true cop as well as administrator. Elect a man who will bring bsck the shine to my badge and faith in the office of the Sheriff.

  • Good luck Mr. Olmstead. I have a 13 yr career in law enforcement and I am still currently employed with a well respected Police Department in LA County. With Baca’s new policy for hiring applicants, I have a database that will take the Sheriff’s Department and the rest of Law Enforcement throughout the country to the next level for hiring. Let me know if you are interested in hearing more…

  • I thinking Mr.Olmsted woud be the best choice due to his great experience within the Sheriff’s Department as a leader. we need to support someone with. intregity and honesty to deal with the problems within Sheriff’s department

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