Foster Care LA County Board of Supervisors LASD Los Angeles County Paul Tanaka Sheriff Lee Baca

LA Sheriff’s Department Had Special Hiring Program for Pals……Citizen Previn, LA County’s WatchDog…The Dangers of LA’s Private Foster Care System…Mississippi Contemplates Serious Sentencing Reform…


The LA Times’ Robert Faturechi has a new story about questionable hiring practices at the LASD. This time the story centers around a program called “Friends of the Sheriff,” that “granted preferential treatment to the friends and relatives of department officials, including some candidates who were given jobs despite having troubled histories…”

According to Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore, the program did indeed exist, and the department shut the thing down last Thursday after the sheriff became aware of the Times’ reporting.

The Times characterizes the program as a project stamped with the approval of the Sheriff, but Whitmore is emphatic that Baca did no such thing. “He didn’t authorize it. He didn’t approve it! He didn’t sponsor it,” Whitmore said hotly.

Whitmore does not, however, dispute the Times’ reporting of the involvement of former undersheriff Larry Waldie with the project. He also said that the program started in 2005 and that one of those who helped to jump start it was former LASD captain Bernice Abrams.

Abrams, if you’ll remember, is a longtime friend of former undersheriff Paul Tanaka and, a year ago, was allowed to retire ahead of being terminated for her alleged protection of a reported drug dealer.

(For more on Abrams, go here and here. and here.)

It appears that the idea of lowered standards to increase hiring is not a new one for the LASD.

In the February 2009 report by the Office of Independent Review, OIR chief attorney, Michael Gennaco, delivers a harshly critical 31-page assessment of the department’s background checking process in 2005-2007, during which time Gennaco notes that the department’s application of its standards “changed dramatically” resulting in far “fewer disqualifications.” He also described how independently contracted psychologists were pressured to lower their standards during the background process…and provided a series of individual case studies showing how the lowering of hiring standards had unpleasant results.


LA County watchdog Eric Previn often drives the staffs of the LA County Board of Supervisors and other county officers absolutely crazy because when he grabs hold of an issue, he does not relinquish it. His missives to selected press persons and to denizens of county government are long and full of wordplay, but his institutional knowledge is broad and deep, and his willingness to dig for facts indefatigable.

Reporters frequently gain from the information Previn uncovers.

Elected officials ignore Previn at their peril.

Above is a video portrait of Citizen Previn by Matthew Hamilton, a grad student at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism.


In 1986, the California state legislature allowed for the creation of private non-profit foster care agencies with the idea that these new privatized agencies, known as FFAs, would be safer and better for kids, a lot less expensive for the state, and would take some of the heat off the state and counties’ often disastrously over-burdened systems.

As the FFAs proliferated it turned out that they were more expensive, not less. Moreover, while many of the new private agencies were quite good. Some were affected by the system’s perverse fiscal incentives to get kids into placement faster, keep them in foster care longer and to cut corners on the quality of care.

A report by the LA Times’ Garrett Therolf looks at the numbers on these FFAs, and tells some of the worst of the FFA horror stories that point to a system painfully in need of reform.

Unfortunately, the problem is not new as shown in this 2009 news story by Daniel Heimpel in which he paints an almost identical picture of the FFAs and their unhappy potential for abuse and tragedy.

Here’s a clip from Therolf’s story:

….Today, the state’s private foster family system — the largest in the nation — has become more expensive and more dangerous than the government-run homes it has largely replaced.
Those living in homes run by private agencies were about a third more likely to be the victims of serious physical, emotional or sexual abuse than children in state-supervised foster family homes, according to a Times analysis of more than 1 million hotline investigations over a recent three-year period.

In Los Angeles County, at least four children died as a result of abuse or neglect over the last five years in homes overseen by private agencies, according to county officials. No children died in government-run homes during that period.

The flow of money to private foster care — now about $400 million a year — introduced a powerful incentive for some to spend as little as possible and pack homes with as many children as they could.

Those agencies are so short of homes that they accept convicted criminals as foster parents. The state has granted waivers to at least 5,300 people convicted of crimes. In the most egregious cases, people with waivers later maimed or killed children.

The system is so poorly monitored that foster care agencies with a history of abuse can continue caring for children for years. Substantiated cases of wrongdoing can bring little punishment from regulators.

Private agencies now care for 15,000 children statewide. The care comes at greater cost — an additional $327 million between 2001 and 2010, the state auditor found.
Los Angeles County has come to heavily rely on this system; five out of six foster children who are not placed with relatives go to private homes.

It is “as bottom of the barrel as you can imagine,” said Jill Duerr Berrick, co-director of the Center for Child and Youth Policy at UC Berkeley. “They are clearly not keeping track of quality issues. It’s really quite surprising we don’t have more tragedies.”


There is serious talk about big reforms going on the Magnolia State reports Geoff Pender of the Clarion-Ledger. (Hat tip to Doug Berman at Sentencing, Law & Policy for flagging this development.)

After taking a look at the fact that the state had the second highest incarceration rate in the nation, which was resulting in ghastly fiscal burdens on the state budget (sound familiar, California?) Mississippi’s lawmakers decided they needed to stop tinkering around the edges and go for serious reform without sacrificing public safety.

Here’s a clip:

A criminal justice task force on Tuesday recommended sweeping reforms to reduce Mississippi’s soaring prison population and costs, standardize sentences and reduce recidivism.

“This is the first time in my career — 32 years — that we have taken a comprehensive look at corrections in this state,” said Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps. “… We all know the cost of doing nothing.”

The recommendations include providing more discretion for judges to impose alternatives to prison and creating “true minimums” on when violent and nonviolent offenders are eligible for release. They also call for defining what constitutes violent crime — something officials said isn’t clear in state law. Proposals also include increasing the threshold from $500 to $1,000 for felony theft and lowering drug sentences for possession of small amounts while cracking down on large drug dealers.

Epps headed the bipartisan, 21-member task force of lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and defense attorneys. The group, after working for seven months with assistance from the Pew Charitable Trust’s Public Safety Performance Project, developed recommendations for the 2014 Legislature.

Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker pro tem Greg Snowden and others voiced their support for the proposal after the task force adopted it. The task force was created by a bill Snowden authored this year.

Bryant said the reforms “put victims first,” protect public safety and provide “clarity of sentencing.” Reeves praised the recommendations as “evidence-based, data-driven, fiscally sound criminal justice reforms.”


  • The idea that the sheriff did not personally know and was not personally a driver of the Friends of the Sheriff program is patently absurd. Beyond the fact that the program has been publicly reported on by the LA Times and other news outlets (to the extent that it actually features prominently in the department and the sheriff’s own Wikipedia pages) … the simple fact that is many Friends of the Sheriff participants are long-time Baca donors and political supporters (many of whom are Level 3 reserves). The reality is this program was set up by the sheriff, and run by Waldie, to reward politically and financially valuable people with badges and guns. The sheriff was the main person to benefit. It’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise. And it’s beyond ridiculous to suggest the sheriff is just somehow learning of this program now. I have it on good information he was aware in at least 2006. So the incompetence/I-didn’t-know argument doesn’t even work here … claiming ignorance here is just a straight up lie.

  • For those of you keeping score, please remember Tanaka’s gymnastic contortions around the jail abuse scandal, claiming that the org chart showed it was not his responsibility during that specific time period.

    Lo and behold, this next scandal involves Personnel Administration, which the midget emperor insisted it remained under his control, from division chief through undersheriff. He even manipulated the infamous org chart to reflect that, thus beginning an odd migratory journey of this unit across the department’s organizational chart.

    Folks, get your Olympic scorecards ready, because Tall Paul is now going to attempt a triple back flip off the rings, in the pike position, with maximum degree of difficulty. This will be fun to watch! Bernice Abram, his campaign contributing buddy with scandals of her own, will be cheering from the sidelines…

  • Lee(don’t elect me)Baca wants us to believe that he had a program specifically named after him (FOS) where he hired prostitutes, molesters, drunks, pathological liars, Domestic Violence offenders and rapists and didn’t even know that the program existed until he (Baca)read it in the LAT? Politely I say “BS.” Someone should inform Baca that he has a ‘kick me I’m stupid’ sign on his back!

    C: Abrams is involved so it’s clear that Tanaka knew also. Baca must come clean with all the names and affiliations published for all to see and where these misfits are today.

    An apology must go out to all those truly qualified candidates, that number in the thousands, that Baca turned away so we could hire the bottom of the society!

    Anybody seen Larry Waldie? I understand that he cancelled his golf session and went into hiding.

  • A program called :Friends of the Sheriff, and the Sheriff admits it existence, but denies he had knowledge?
    But he will accept the challenge of change.
    My question is if the Sheriff is “always in charge”, his statement to the Jail Review Board, How come he doesn’t know anything about hiring standards, excessive force, jail beating abuses, or piss poor morale?
    But wait, he is accepting change.
    Sounds like if you give me a burger today, I will pay you on Tuesday.
    17 years in office and he still has to be told when we need change?
    I know he loves the department, but I also believe his love is blind.

  • What does this donkey know? Whitmore, you are such a liar!! Hell, I have talked directly to the Sheriff about FOS.

    No wonder there are 18 swines fighting for their lives. Honesty is not a priority of LASD.

    I bet if you asked Baca a question today. He would answer “I don’t know” out of f*#ing habit.

    Mr. T and Leroy D. how do you guys sleep at night?

  • Victoria Havassey: Thanks for stepping up. I know it wasn’t easy for you to do. If you can contact Celeste as there are others that need your help.

  • How do Baca and Tanaka sleep at night? They both have the traits of a Sociopath. They live in a world were they have done no wrong even if it’s in front of them clear as day.

    Look at this statement from Whitmore on Baca’s behalf.
    Whitmore said Baca knew vaguely about the separate hiring track but did not create it or operate it. Baca didn’t understand “all the ins and outs” of the program until the last few months, Whitmore added, and learned only this week that the program had been operating since 2005.
    The office of Independent Review released the Backround Investigations in Feb. 2009. A year before  the OPS hirings and this report also contained information on the Friends of the Sheriff Program. The Board of Supervisors recieved the report and it was CCed  to one Leroy  Baca and Larry Waldie.  Baca knew about the Friends of Sheriff Program in 2009 well before this week.  Hell, the office of Office of Independent Review has a whole page of reports that warned him of employees and operation problems going back all the way to 2002! Leroy  needs stop hiding behind the fact he didn’t know or so and so was responsible. He knew. Here the link to the reports page of the OIR to look at the legacy you have build Sheriff. Take a look at some of the warnings you were given that the ship was taking on water. By the way don’t the B.I.’s  receive cases that say legacy candidate to identify relatives or civilian employees instead  of FOS now?

    Paul loves to go on the radio and t.v giving interviews that he was not responsible for the problems in the jails or the Department. Well, let me impeach your statements.

    We  just paid out a $722,000 settlement on Nov. 27,2013 for an incident in which an inmate named Dion Starr was stabbed 23 times by Latino gang members while in custody at Men’s Central Jail in 2006. Guess who was in charge of the jail in 2006? Here’s the testimony from page 10 and 11 of the 7-27-2012 CCJV meeting. to refresh our memories. 




    You state you knew about the hiding of  the prisoner. You also said knew the Sheriff stopped the investigation into Mr. Turner. Did you open an internal affairs investigation or expose the problem to the F.B.I.?  No, you claimed not to be a snitch. That  sounds like something a child would worry about, not a  responsible leader in a law enforcement agency. You clearly lack  is the integrity to operate within the laws.

     One can only hope the F.B.I has a copy of  these interviews  and news reports . Both of  you need to held accountable for the  years  of damage caused to this department by the voters or federal indictments.


  • I could not agree more, Jack. However, responding to the likes of Whitless is engaging a skunk in a pissing contest. They, yes they , are not worth the brain damage.

    How can the command staff expect courageous leadership from it’s line level supervisors if courage , honestly and integrity are absent from the marching orders.

    Time will tell. God bless you and your ilk for fighting the good fight.

  • What is very disturbing is many of us stepped forward at least 4 to 9 years ago and higher ups tried to squash issues regarding criminal activity from so called deputies. The retaliation was brutal like you could not have imagined it. You know those 18 indicted are singing their hearts out giving people up.

  • #9 Investigative Mind: You are probably right about the 18 indicted singing their hearts out, hell by this time the Feds are probably offering them better deals just to shut up already!!

  • I was in charge of hiring Deputies for two years as Captain of the Academy – the background unit was assigned to the Academy at the time. Only once during that entire time did any Dept executive interfere with our process or our decisions about who should and who shouldn’t be hired. His name: then-Chief Leroy D Baca.

  • investigative mind, I particularly like your reference to “so-called deputies ” Too many of us worked to earn the real title.

    hank you

  • Loved seeing the four “Gomez for Sheriff” signs today on the Ramona Blvds north chain link fence as everyone entered and exited SHQ! It gave me a good laugh!

  • Anyone just catch the KCAL 9 report? Tanaka said he has never asked anyone to hire anyone who was not qualified. Wasn’t there an issue with his secretary’s son who never should have been hired? Guess that was a coincidence. Wait, no coincidences in law enforcement. Or maybe Tanaka believes he isn’t lying because he had his aide ask for him.

  • “I am shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on in here.”

    “Oh, your winnings, sir.”

    “Thank you very much.”

    I suppose it will come as a shock to everybody that so many Irish immigrants flocked to law enforcement across the country early in the 20th century. And it must have been just random chance that sons, fathers, and grandfathers were all members of the same departments. And don’t even bother comparing police to fire for finding legacies – they are the champs to this day.

    I’m not trying to justify turning a blind eye toward hiring people who shouldn’t work at K-Mart, but quit buying into the breathless reporting going on. ALL of the things being reported have gone on under EVERY administration in LASD. The difference is now the media is trying desperately to influence the race for sheriff. Take a step back, think about it, and you’ll see it for what it is.

  • So, GPA, none of this matters? just business as usual? I’m not out of breath, but I don’t want arsenic in my chicken, either. I watched the interviews and ‘I am disturbed’ by the little guy who says he’s disturbed and by the his old boss’s nutty bitter quitter logic. It’s time for ‘Le Roi’ to say good night and take his former court jester with him. Neither one of them are credible. Le Roi said, his opponents were making problems for the County. What does that mean? He hasn’t? Dude, no matter who calls the action, this is a trainwreck in progress.

  • 20 I agree. It is the ‘” this is the way it aways was ‘” mentality’ of ‘oh well ” that allowed LASD to deteriorate to its current morass. i am not breathless, either, GPA. Your alluding to the status quo just adds to the corrosive element of our society. Stand up and man up. ‘


    Okay, enough already with the Bangkok stuff. I unwisely let a couple of comments through and now several of you are going off the rails. (Yes. Those comments are in the trash.)



  • 20 and 21, read my last paragraph above again. All I’m saying is, be mindful of the media’s manipulation. Just think.

  • A second week academy recruit could connect the dots in regards to Baca giving campaign donors county cars. Misappropriation of county funds is a crime, is it not? If the Feds really wanted to take Baca down all they would have to do is go down that path. It’s been common knowledge for years. You’d be hard pressed to find a veteran deputy that isn’t aware of it. The donors that had the county cars didn’t stay in the shadows. They made it known every chance they got that they had Baca’s ear. If you wonder how organizations go astray and end up with a culture of corruption, the LASD under Baca’s leadership is the perfect case study. Those under him witnessed that his way was the way you did business, ran things, and got reelected. He’s in his fourth term. Those under his tutelage knew that it was common knowledge, not only among dept. personnel, but among the media, that the county cars, badges, ID’s and reserve status was given, unearned and unwarranted, to his campaign donors. Nothing happened. A few lines in the LA Times and that was it. Nobody cared. It grew from there. Pretty soon the “I can get away with anything because nobody cares” mentality sets it. Not only among the sheriff, but also with those under his tutelage. Those who seek to inherit high rank or the sheriff’s job itself learn, by experience, that the way to the top is to break the rules and laws.
    It’s a learned behavior. It’s no surprise the LASD is in the shape it’s in. Core Values my ass!!!

  • Of course, I’m an idiot, GPA. How did I miss it? The media is the problem-the tool of the illuminati and George Soros. Once again, they’re rolling in to impose their agenda, discredit our basic American values, and undermine the Department, a coup in plain sight. Move along nothing to see here, folks. Don’t get excited, this is just the usual local political criminal enterprise. Once ‘we’ elect the man ‘we’ want, it’ll be back to square one. Baca has out lived his usefulness, and the powers that be want a new man.

  • GPA…. You lost me ,. I only saw one paragraph. Regardless of how you perceive the media, it is the media which is responsible for exposing the corruption within LASD.

  • As far as the media trying to influence the race for sheriff, the world is a much different  place than it was when Leroy entered office. Advance in technology have made it    easy  to access  information. A news cycle has a longer life with a newspaper not going in to a recycle bin at the end of a day. Look at the stories people pull up on this site from past years. Most people carry the Internet around on their phone and can google information in a matter of seconds.  It makes it much easier for  todays voters to see who’s full of it and who’s not. That’s  bad news for the Baca and Tanaka campaigns.    The days of sweeping things under the rug are over. Time to call to call logistics for some boxes to clean out your office and LACREA for your retirement paperwork Leroy.

  • @#25. I think Lees height of arrogance and delusion of being untouchable was summed up with his “Well then don’t elect me” statement. If that’s not a guy who has let the venom of power and influence corrupt him, I don’t know what is.

  • The numbers provided in the brief survey are quite telling, and they are not good for Baca or Tanaka. In essence, there is no upside for either camp. The more voters know about them, the more they are hated for what they’ve done. They can’t point to any successful story and claim responsibility for it – the good things that happen involving the department are because hard working, honest deputies did it.

    Even the crime rates tell the story as well. They are trending upwards, and crime has evolved to the point it’s more profitable to steal access cards than rob banks. It’s not like there are more honest people all of a sudden, just crooks getting smarter.

    Olmsted, on the other hand, has a lot of upside to his story and nothing to hide. The more the voters know of him, the more they are inclined to vote for him, it’s that simple. The cigar coin crowd, however, will go down to the bitter end smoking their Havanas as their hero is led away in handcuffs by the feds.

  • #24 Left at the ball, around 2005 a extensive Fleet vehicle tracking system came on board with a new Sgt, it included vehicle assignments by name including reserves in the comments section. Around 2010 (under PT Boy) the comment section was deleted and eventually replaced with another program. Some still have access to original though!

  • Shame on all of you and how self righteous you have all become. FOS wasn’t created for Baca. It was created for each of you who when your own special relatives and friends were not getting hired fast enough or were getting disqualified for legitimate reasons, you ran crying to Baca to complain. Baca’s major fault in this is that he is a giver and wanted to make everyone happy. So FOS was created to monitor all the special cases for applicants who knew someone on the department. By the way, it wasn’t just executives who complained to Baca, it was employees at all levels, sworn and civilian. Baca should have told them he was sorry but had to treat everyone the same. But he sincerely wanted to help. So FOS was created to help. Again, he does have some major flaws, but come on folks. Attacking for EVERYTHING makes you just look petty.

  • #2, I was only around for 30+ years. And FOAS was a common part of our vocabulary, starting with Peter J. The big difference ( in my limited exposure ) was FOS then meant : be careful what you do and say around this guy because it may get back to the Sheriff” It had nothing to do with fast tracking a new hire. If fact, I conducted many oral interviews for new hires and if there was even a hint that a favor may be asked of the interviewer, the board for that candidate was changed at the last minute by the testing personnel. This happened because integrity existed. I am only speaking to one element of the hiring process, but believe the same sense of honesty and values pervaded the balance. I had connects when I started the process and was NEVER offered assistance in any part of the process. Let me correct that, I was given an academy tour . Didn’t even know about “ride-a-longs.”

    It is not my point to castigate anyone, just want a level playing filed.

  • Riddle me this: How does Baca in his right mind (I know lol) in the political fight of his career promote a “Lynwood Viking” as the new Captain of Century Station? There are only two answers, you choose.

    1. Im the Sheriff and I can do anything I want and don’t care about the political fallout of my Captain having the infamous Viking tattoo. OR

    2. The Sheriff was “Finessed” into this promotion by Tanaka’s people to make the Sheriff look like an idiot when someone finally picks up this story. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will have a stroke about this. I predict the Sheriff will be forced to remove the Captain once he becomes aware of it and the real question is what will he do to the people who set him up in promoting this individual.

    Im backing the Sheriff on this one when he eventually responds with, I didn’t know, or my staff never told me

  • I agree with Whistleblower II. There has always been a fast track program for friends/family of Department members. It makes sense; who better to judge the qualities needed of a deputy sheriff than other deputy sheriffs? I think there is a great deal of validity to that concept and it should not be scrapped. However, some deputies may not know their friends/relatives as well as they may think and if that applicant, through thorough background investigation, is not qualified than he/she should not be hired, no matter who he/she knows. But simply to have a fast track program which simply puts a friend/relative to the head of the line I do not think is inherently immoral. The hiring decision, however, has to be always above board.

  • Whistleblower II, The problem with what you say, if true makes our compassionate giving Sheriff dishonest. You can’t have it both ways. At this point do you believe the Sheriff, seems be be lots of evidence to bring more than a little doubt.

  • @34, You are absolutely correct. This promotion shows very clearly 1. How disconnected Baca is from the daily operation of LASD, he is clueless. 2. The people surrounding Baca to this day are Tanaka loyalists and are NOT loyal to Baca. 3. Tanaka still pulls the strings. This was not by any stretch, the best qualified candidate to promote and (remain) place at Century Station, or any station for that matter. Let us see the ink, all of them, all of it.

    Olmsted will be a change agent, and the 4th Floor and beyond will be purged. Anything less, just vote for Tanaka and suck it up until the next FBI investigation begins.

  • FOS is not a fast track for employees of the department. FOS was and IS the group of people who are, or believed to be Friends Of the Sheriff. Legacy is a different program that is meant to identify others in the departments employee ranks that are referred or recommended by current members. There is a HUGE difference!
    I have worked with legacy graduates, and they seem to want to be better than the member who recommended them. Usually because they know that their mother or father, or other family member worked very hard to have the reputation they earned over a 20 to 30 year service record.
    Being known as the son, daughter, nephew or niece of so and so, a line deputy, sergeant,Lt. or captain, can be intimidating.
    There is no hiding in legacy.
    Now being FOS, those people can be offensive, narcissistic, arrogant, and ungrateful to say the least. They feel they have paid their dues by knowing the Sheriff. So do not put the two groups in the same cup of coffee.
    Someone is trying to spin this to make legacy look like FOS. And its not, one program helps the workers and the other helps the politician. These are not interchangeable. No legacy people take trips to China, drive county cars, attend abbreviated academies, or donate large sums of money to campaigns.

  • #38 LeftAtTheBall is totally right. Two separate things are being intentionally commingled here. I’ve known a number of FOS deputies/reserves; they are not legacies, they’re donors/the well connected and most have no business being in law enforcement (and are in it for entirely the wrong reasons), which I’m sure was evident during their backgrounds.

  • Baca you just promoted Gooden. Are you aware he is loyal to Tanaka. Stand by for the back stabbing….

  • It’s not just the FOS program that has issues. The problems start when some Chief or other Exec calls over to personnel, and says they want to check on somebody. That just means they want somebody fast tracked. It is going on right now. There is someone going into the Jan. class that reportedly did not pass backgrounds a year ago. Chief makes a call, and she’s in.

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