LASD Law Enforcement Los Angeles County

THE UNDERSHERIFF & THE GRAY, Part 2 – by Matthew Fleischer


Other law enforcement officers weigh in, plus an internal LASD document puts the undersheriff’s “work in the gray” speeches into a troubling context

By Matt Fleischer

Two weeks ago, at the most recent Jails Commission hearing, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Captain Pat Maxwell, who heads LASD’s Norwalk Station, testified about a disturbing meeting he had with LASD Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. The year was 2009, and Tanaka came to Norwalk to hold a meeting with the station’s supervisors. According to Maxwell, Tanaka, who was then an assistant sheriff, was quite blunt about what Norwalk’s supervisors were doing wrong. “He was talking to my sergeants, lieutenants and he said, ‘You need to let deputies do their job out there, they have a tough job. You need to allow the deputies to work in the gray area.”

Pressed by commission members to define “gray area,” Maxwell initially demurred. “Well, that’s the problem with the gray area, there’s a lot of different interpretations.”

When compounded with Tanaka’s repeated statements—to Maxwell and others—about his dislike for robust internal affairs investigations, the captain eventually revealed that he believed there was little doubt about Tanaka’s meaning: “To me, working in the gray area is outside of policy and outside the law.”

Maxwell is not the only LASD employee to arrive at this interpretation. His sentiment echoes our earlier reporting on Tanaka’s apparent infatuation with “the gray.”

“If we know there are drugs in a house, but we don’t have a warrant,” one supervisor who worked under Tanaka told us, “‘working the gray’ would mean manufacturing a reason to search the house. We could say we were responding to a complaint of a domestic disturbance, or that we personally heard a disturbance. Whatever it takes to get inside that house and get the job done.”

This past Tuesday, Tanaka penned a department-wide memo, which quickly found its way to WitnessLA and to the LA Times. In the memo, the undersheriff attempted to rebut that notion that his repeated work the gray area speeches promoted a borderline-straddling or extralegal style of law enforcement:

“I’ve come to learn in recent months that the term ’grey area’ can be easily misinterpreted by those that choose to do so. Some would like to believe that the grey area is the area between right and wrong, that it characterizes certain police misconduct as acceptable, and that the end justifies the means.

“I’m writing this message to ensure that there is no misunderstanding — that when it comes to right or wrong, there is NO grey area. The discretionary authority given to us as law enforcement officers brings with it tremendous responsibility. It requires us to be knowledgeable of all applicable laws, rules, policies and protocols and to enforce them in a manner that is fair, impartial and compassionate. Being a peace officer necessitates that you maintain an unwavering sense of right and wrong. Cross this line and you violate our Department’s Core Values, dishonor the badge, let down your fellow deputies, bring shame to yourself and embarrass your family.”


The idea that Tanaka has been making the rounds to some of the most active stations in the department, calling closed door meetings in which he insisted deputies focus their efforts on exercising proper discretion when giving speeding tickets and the like, stretches the limits of plausibility. But to get a better idea of how the concept is viewed by other policing agencies, I called around to a variety of law enforcement departments in California and elsewhere in the country to get their take on “working in the gray.”

“Like a lot of idioms, it can be used in ways other than its accepted sense,” Riverside Police Chief and 33-year LAPD vet Sergio Diaz told me. “It’s a phrase about ethical ambiguity that is in itself very ambiguous.”

But Diaz and nearly all the law enforcement officials I spoke with made the distinction between a law enforcement officer’s discretion and the “gray area” of the law.

“I can’t imagine describing the gray area as discretion,” Diaz said.

El Paso Police Department training officer Allen Edington went even further. “There’s no such thing as a gray area,” he said. “There’s the law and that’s it. We address that right out of the gate [in training].

Edington, like Diaz, quickly drew a sharp line between an officer’s discretion and working in the ambiguous gray.

“There is a realm of officer discretion. The soccer mom speeding to get to her boy in the hospital who had an accident: do you give her a citation or let her go? We set boundaries on what we’re willing to accept on officer discretion.”

What if a recruit were to bring up the gray areas of law enforcement during training?

“We would shut that down in a heartbeat,” Edington said.

San Diego Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Jan Caldwell was equally dismissive of the notion of “gray” policing. “In all my time at the Sheriff’s Department and 32 years in the FBI before that, I have never heard the term used. Nor have I heard that term used by any law enforcement agency in the San Diego area.”

Of course, “gray area” is a universal term that occasionally gets bandied about in casual conversation. As it relates to law enforcement, Caldwell says those instances call for intensive collective circumspection.

“I think if a deputy or anyone comes to us and says there’s a ‘gray area,’ we would sit down and talk about that. We would weigh very carefully how the letter of the law applies to that situation.”

The bottom line, she says, “There is no gray area. Our mission is to enforce the law and the law is pretty specific. We have a mission statement and one of our points is, ‘we do the right thing, even when no one is looking.’”

Diaz, however, disagrees with the notion that there isn’t a legitimate place for a very circumscribed kind of ambiguity in law enforcement. “To say there’s no gray area is a totalitarian point of view.”

That said, he added, without very explicit guidance in the parameters of the gray area, its scope can easily be misconstrued, and abused.

“You have to know how that particular person used it,” Diaz says. “What I’m concerned about the phrase could be used as the verbal equivalent of a wink and a nod. It’s gray as long as you don’t get caught.”

Deputy Tom Peine, public information officer of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in Arizona, was reluctant to even comment on working in the gray, given a lack of universal clarity on the term.

“We don’t have such a definition here. There is no such thing as an official or an unofficial encouragement of the gray area in our department. We’re trying to do our job well and do it right. This department takes great pains to protect rights, not violate them. The courts look at this stuff under a magnifying glass, and rightfully so.”

Peine did acknowledge that working in the gray is an inevitability in law enforcement. “It’s not that I don’t understand what you’re talking about. There are situations where you don’t have a black or a white.”

However, these situations are far from ideal. “Those are tough places to be in. Those situations can arise, but you don’t necessarily want to be in them.”

Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department echoes Peine’s sentiment. “I’ve heard that term. It’s used in a lot of different professions. To me, it means sometimes there may not be a policy, procedure or law that governs a certain situation. But, when you’re dealing with a situation like that, you need to use moral and ethical decision-making.”

In other words, working in the gray is an inevitable, ethically perilous part of any law officer’s job. But is it something to be pursued?

“I wouldn’t encourage it as a rule,” says Kelly. “If you train your people right, the gray area should be very small, the black and white should be large. I certainly wouldn’t try to exploit the gray area. Search and seizure or use of force, you better be careful. You need solid foundation.”

Diaz agrees that application of ethical “gray” policing is extremely limited in scope. “There is no gray area when it comes to force,” he says. “A police supervisor speaking to subordinates on an issue as critical as force, you have to go to great pains not to be ambiguous and to be understood.”


This brings us to why, according to LASD sources we spoke with, Tanaka’s speeches about the virtues of “gray” policework have been so troubling: As we reported in Part 4 of our Dangerous Jails series, these speeches to station deputies did not occur in a vacuum.

During Maxwell’s testimony to the Jails Commission, the commissioners were given a June 30, 2007 letter from LASD Captain Steve Roller. According the memo, on June 28, 2007, Paul Tanaka paid a visit to Century Station in Lynwood, where Roller was then captain. Once there, he called a meeting in which he insisted that “officers should function right on the edge of the line.” Roller wrote that Tanaka also told the gathered deputies that he “didn’t like Internal Affairs Bureau and the way they worked,” and that he personally planned to investigate whichever captain in the department “were putting the most cases on deputies.”

What the Roller memo didn’t mention was that, at the time of Tanaka’s speech, Century was struggling with violence stemming from a tattooed and problematic deputy clique called “The Regulators.”

WitnessLA has obtained the minutes of a June 23, 2007 meeting attended by Commander Willie Miller, Commander James Lopez, Commander Eric Smith, Roller, three lieutenants and the Office of Independent Review’s Mike Gennaco. That timeframe places the meeting exactly one week before Roller’s memo was published and five days before Tanaka’s “edge of the line” speech was delivered at Century station.

The meeting dealt explicitly the with growing influence of the Regulators clique, its similarity to its predecessor, the Vikings, and how the supervisors might nip in the bud the actions of the deputy posse before its members got out of control.

The attendees of the meeting estimated that Regulators membership could be as high as 63 in Century station, and that its members were becoming increasingly fearless about showing off their affiliation in the group—in the form of tattoos and motorcycle decals. More seriously, the attendees addressed uninvestigated accusations that Regulator members had taken control over the scheduling of lucrative overtime shifts at Century, that members may be strong-arming “donations” for Regulator-sanctioned purposes out of fellow deputies, and that some members may have perpetrated sexual coercion against at least one female trainee.

Roller also expressed a concern that members of the Regulators were given preferential treatment by department executives in a way that undermined meaningful supervision. “There are a whole lot of folks connected throughout this Department that are willing to help these [Regulators]. And make sure that their landings are all very soft, or that they are all taken care of.”

The June 2007 meeting concluded with Commander Miller insisting the group reconvene for a “management conference to talk about sub-cultures and cultures of the stations and how they can undermine the management.”

Five days later, Tanaka visited Century and essentially told Roller and his supervisors to “back off,” prompting the memo given to the commission. Then, weeks after Roller sent his memo critical of Tanaka, he was transferred without his knowledge or consent from his captainship at Century, while out of town on an Alaskan cruise.

We don’t know whether or not Tanaka knew the details of the June 23 meeting, or whether Tanaka was the one who had Roller transferred—although LASD sources with inside knowledge of the situation suggest that he did and he was. Yet, it is fair to say that there is a long list of occurrences and credible personal accounts that, taken as a whole, suggest the undersheriff’s recent memo regarding the “gray area” is disingenuous at best. Even if Tanaka’s memo is genuine, his repeated insistence upon ambiguously instructing deputies to “work the gray,” without adequate clarification, demonstrated a supervisory negligence seemingly unthinkable for the operational head of the largest sheriff’s department in the nation.

Graphic by WitnessLA


  • Tanaka’s memo reminds me of Nixon’s famous “I’m not a crook” or Clinton’s “I don’t know that woman” speeches! Time to go Paul. You really need to resign! Nobody will back you and even Baca will eventually wake up and cut you loose!

  • Shame on Baca for allowing this to occur. Not knowing is not an excuse. He should have known. I hope Baca is self-examining to pin point what went wrong. I can’t wait to hear what is going to be said on the 27th.

  • Tanaka’s memo cannot undo a career of encouraging deputies to push the edge of the envelope. Look at what he has done, not his imperial decrees. An ordinary deputy who caused this much havoc for the department would’ve been fired long ago. Why is this guy still on the job?

  • And you hear from time to time how “brilliant” he is. Really? The ONLY reason this man still has a job is because of his unholy alliance with Baca. Pathetic,

  • Police discretion (Grey area) allows law enforcement officials to effectively make decisions in the field when no clear-cut solution is illuminated by law or a handbook. This “Gray Area” trend in police work has many advantages such as allowing officers the flexibility to handle each situation in a manner that best fits its individual needs.

    A police officer has the ability to utilize discretion when determining an acceptable level of force against a suspect. An officer is able to use lethal force if he believes his life to be in danger but he is not obligated to do so.

    Preserving life is always the foremost concern of officers and allowing them the ability to create every opportunity to do so is advantageous to the system across the board in providing victims of an offense closure and allowing an offender an opportunity to do something with his life and amend it as opposed to simply ending it.

    Police officers are not simply rule-following soldiers. DISCRETION also known as gray area, as it is used by these law enforcement professionals, acts as a deterrent to crime simply by avoiding predictable patterns that criminals can take advantage of. A police officer that has an ordered route of patrol each night can be mapped and criminals will target areas at times where police are not immediately available. Discretion in this area however allows an officer to choose his patterns, mix them up and avoid leaving locations without police presence for too long.

    Police officers have discretion “Grey Area” when enforcing some areas of the law insofar as who is ticketed or even arrested. It isn’t cost effective for an officer to attempt to pull over everyone he suspects of speeding or attempt to search the vehicles of those he pulls over. The advantage here allows an officer to focus his energy on those situations where he believes a law has genuinely been broken in reckless fashion or when he believes a suspect is hiding something and may have broken more serious laws.

    Remember: The Grey Area = Compassion and Reasonability. Our jails are full and we need to practice this type of mindset. The 3 strike rule is a perfect example. Stealing a pizza and the guy is in jail for life? Let’s be reasonable and make the Criminal justice more efficient and fair for all.

  • Hey Good: Liar! Liar! Pants on fire! How odd that most PD’s have never even heard of the Gray Area. Yes, Compassion and Reasonabilty; like the kind you gave by torturing suspects, Gang members as deputies (Vikings) Perjury in courts, lying on reports, giving out guns to those who never had a day of training, closing the Academy due to the largest cheating scandal in the history of California, paying for promotions(like yours), Grand Theft from Aero, throwing a female African-American out the door barefooted suffering from mental illness and dies (still unsolved), give Mel Gibson a ride home without being fully printed, giving guns and badges to whores, cartel members and pimps and for lunch let’s have a burrito with heroin. Under your definition of Discretion the choice would be; do I beat a mentally disabled man senseless or kill him? As for fairness, yes I agree when they come for you and the other comrades, you will get the full extent of fairness!!

  • Oh come now. Does an advanced discussion of philosophy here really have anything to do with the thousands of high school graduates with the responsibility to make split second decisions regarding right and wrong?
    Right and wrong = black and white. The dithering or blending of black and white creates gray or grey. Working in the grey relates to dabbling in the right and the wrong. The assumption is that one will do a little wrong to make a big right.
    Discretion is a right to decide on one’s own judgement. Nothing like grey. One would use his discretion to choose to operate in the grey area between right and wrong. It would be reverse logic to assume that operating in the grey area between right and wrong equates to discretion.
    Could you imagine a peace officer during courtroom testimony justifying any actions by stating that he was “operating in the grey”, as opposed to frequent testimony to discretionary acts.

  • In his memo, Tanaka admits he used the term “gray area” when referring to deputies doing police work. In the same memo he also wrote there is NO gray area. If he there is NO gray area, why did he say it in his speeches? Isn’t that hypocrisy?

  • Tanaka is posturing for his July 27th appearance before the Jail Commission at the Board of Supervisor’s hearing room. The Sheriff will most likely sound off with his normal, “I’m not looking for blame (just look to the little guy sitting next to him) I am only looking for solutions and we are moving forward.” And if there are any cannon balls fired at him by the Commission, Baca will revert to his usual, “I answer to the citizens of this County, not you.”

    Tanaka will revert to a few, “I didn’t handle the Captain Clark situation properly and I have grown from it.” Or, “I was shocked at the testimony of Captain Maxwell and I am so surprised at how my well intentioned speech about the Gray Area was so misunderstood. Once i found out, I immediately issued a clarification memo to all Department personnel.” Then he will look at Baca and say nervously, “Hehehehe right Papa?”

    It has been said by so many people on this blog and in hundreds if not thousands of conversations within LASD, Tanaka has been a cancer to this organization from the day he “earned his ink” at Lynwood up to this very second. The man has been at the center of so many scandals it bogles the mind how in the world he has a job today, let alone thrusted into the position of Undersheriff. And this is not taking objection to policy decisions he is involved in, rather it is the core of his on-going unethical beliefs and actions, his open disdain for IAB and countless individuals whose career he has ruined simply because they were doing their jobs as supervisors and managers. Tanaka has this insatiable desire to curry favor with deputies at any and all costs. He tells them what they want to hear, he has always done that. My God, the man marches into a number of stations, holds meetings with line personnel, throws out all supervisors and then asks, “Tell me which sergeants and lieutenants you don’t like.” And then he rolls these people up either from positions or assignments.

    I am guessing when the dust settles on all of these Custody Division investigations, if objective and honest facts are revealed, I strongly suspect it will show a “hand picked” cadre of sergeants and lieutenants placed by Tanaka at MCJ were involved in countless cover-ups and encouragements of off the wall force incidents. A “culture” of his making ala the Vikings. All of these folks, including Captain Cruz were taking their marching orders directly from Tanaka. “Let the deputies do their job, take care of them, coddle them,” all the things we have heard in direct testimony.

    And if/when these deputies, sergeants, lieutenants and Cruz are hauled off to face potential Federal criminal charges, Tanaka will turn his back on them in a nano second. In fact, he may even issue another memo to all talking about the horrid events of MCJ and how disappointed he is with the supervisors, managers and Division executives. He will end by saying he is shocked how his words were misinterpreted. And Baca will say, “This is the first I’ve heard about any of this. I was kept in the dark, but we are moving forward.”

    There are a few, and I mean just a few, honerable Department executives left on active duty. You people just close your eyes to all of this. Just waiting for your retirement date to roll around. Shame on you, shame on all of you. And the boot lickers that fill in the void, those are cancer cells that will remain within LASD for decades. What a pity. Sheriff Baca, your legacy WILL be what you have allowed to happen.

  • #9, great post! Suggestion to the group: instead of waiting for the answers to the advance notice questions already given to Tanaka and Baca, should we all post our own questions that urge the commission to ask Tanaka and Baca? That way the public and Department members ensure real issues and concerns will be addressed!

  • #9- It is obvious that you are not looking for change, rather you’de like your political/career ambitions to succeed. No worries. Everyone sees our REAL motives and it’s not to make the LASD better.

    Please don’t use this platform for your own selfish agenda. It’s about the LASD and the people they serve. We truly need to make this department better and we are thankful that the Sheriff and Undersheriff are taking care of business.

  • Bereal – I have no agenda other than what is best for LASD. I attend regular meetings with the Undersheriff, I see the results from perhaps a much higher and different level than you do. I am quite content in my position, I make it clear what I expect from those who work for me. I have no motives other than to speak the truth. I am entitled to my opinion, you are entitled to yours. Please do not insult me or my opinion with your provocative statements, just state your case based on facts, not hyperbole.

  • Bereal – PS, I think your statement is correct, and I am quoting you in #11.

    “No worries. Everyone sees ‘our’ REAL motives and it’s not to make the LASD better.”

    Perhaps no one could have said it better than you. I think you are absolutely correct and I will take you at your word. Case closed.

  • In The Know, I’m submitting my questions  for the sheriff and undersheriff directly on the C.C.J.V. web site.   The problem that has plagued this department is  hiring and retaining employees who don’t meet the high standard of ethics expected of law enforcement.   Most companies fire individuals for some of the behaviors  that has been exhibited. Seriously, people who have to join deputy gangs and get  matching tattoos.  Maybe for more fun, they can rearrange the furniture in the office and make a fort. Henry Marin flunks out of the academy on national television, with hours of footage showing his ineptness for the job. What do we do? Rehire him of course, only to see him get arrested. Paul Tanaka  has treated people with disdain  during his whole career. What do we do? Promote him, only to see him promote those with his same philosophy. For those of you who think this department is  running fine, keep on dreaming. Change is needed. 

  • #12-
    I apologize if it seemed insultive. I should have worded the statement better. Including my spelling error -“No worries. Everyone sees ‘your’ REAL motives and it’s not to make the LASD better.”

    I do and will always believe that the Sheriff and Undersheriff have the best intentions. The change in our department is GREAT and we will continue to support them. Once again, I would like to apologize if I seemed disrespectful. Like you, I am very passionate about this profession and the LASD.

  • Three cents- Get a spine. If the U/S is a cancer, and you attend regular meetings with him at a high level, point it out to him. Report it writing. Why are you spouting off on a anonymous, little read, blog. Report it to the Sheriff. Write a letter to the Times, a well read publication, and sign it. Short of that you just talking out of you butt from behind a computer while telling everyone you are a high level big shot.

  • Mac- you seem to miss the point. We have a problem because those who have complained have gone unheard or have been retaliated against. Do you really think Three Cents would make progress by confronting the US or going directly through Baca? That’s what this jail commission and federal investigations are, in part, all about. How do you communicate with someone who scolds his supervisors for attempting to discipline misbehaving deputies? How do communicate with someone who gives favors by way of protection and promotions in exchange for campaign contributions?

  • Justin – You are missing my point. Three cents claims to be an executive, but his skills are so limited that he doesn’t know how to effect change. He should write up and document the proposed changes he suggests and show them to the other execs. If he is too afraid to submit a legitimate proposal he needs to quit. He has no spine. Why is he on a blog instead submitting proposals at the executive level? What will the U/S do to him for submitting proposals? Nothing. He can accept them or turn them down, but there is documentation of this for all to see. And no one gets promoted for a $100 donation. Please. Use some common sense.

  • #17-JUSTIN- “Do you really think Three Cents would make progress by confronting the US or going directly through Baca?”

    The answer to this questiong is = YES!!

    Both their ears are wide open and they (Sheriff & Undersheriff) are implementing GOOD change. Do you want to fix the LASD? Do you want to make it better for everyone? The opportunity is NOW!!

  • We’ll see what change is implemented after the CCJV completes their recommendation report within a couple months. In the meantime, 5 days until the big day when the dynamic duo go before the commission. Will the joker show up? I will be dialing in…..same bat time….same bat channel!

  • On the 27th bring your popcorn for the dog and pony show! They are not implementing anything! They are being forced to do what is expected BECAUSE THEY GOT CAUGHT! Just like you posers who are being paid to blog for Baca! These two bozos had plenty of warning and opportunities to do what was right! But, instead they chose crime and corruption! Justice is best served cold and everyone is going to have their just reward! Why should anyone submit questions ahead of time? Can’t Baca or Tanaka speak with knowledge? That’s right like taking a promotional where Tanaka gives out answers ahead of time. Many of the command staff have sold themselves for a lot less than 100.00 Ask Parker!

  • Good idea #14, time to submit our own questions to the commission. “Mac” you know very well everyone on the donation lists got or will get promoted….are you blind?

  • “Do you really think Three Cents would make progress by confronting the US or going directly through Baca?”

    The answer to this questiong is = YES!!

    Both their ears are wide open and they (Sheriff & Undersheriff) are implementing GOOD change. Do you want to fix the LASD? Do you want to make it better for everyone? The opportunity is NOW!!

  • #18 and 19: You sound like marketing reps for Baca and Tanaka. If you are serious, that’s great but it may be too little too late much like Tanaka’s memo concerning the “Gray area”. Also, why has not the Sheriff addressed these issues with the rest of the organization? There have been no reassurances that upper management is approachable for change. And I am sure you are well aware that the issues that have been made public are not the only issues that are going to dog the LASD. I have attempted to make an effort to change what I have seen as undeniable, inexcusable incompetence and corruption. My efforts were ignored and I now have no faith in the leadership of this department. Department leadership has its members feel like fools for coming forth with constructive change. And now, only because they’ve been humiliated, they expect us to trust them? And yes, I am well documented and I am waiting my turn to humiliate those responsible. That day is coming. Maybe upper management is in the process of making positive change, but it is very difficult to take them serious under the circumstances. The trust has been broken, and I don’t think it’s coming back.

  • No, we are not a marketing campaign. Likewise, you sound like a marketing campaign to destroy GOOD change. I’m sorry you feel that way. I, along with many others, respectfully disagree. The Sheriff and the Undersheriff (like you and I) are human. They, like all of us, make mistakes. Luckily, I’m sure they are learning from their mistakes and moving forward in a positive direction.

    LASD is a great Police Department that is going through some good change. It’s time to embrace it and grow from it.


    If you’re a commenter who has been commenting in great volume, but under a bunch of different names, and you have suddenly noticed that not all your posts make it online, that’s a signal that you need to dial it back a little. This isn’t at all personal, or a reflection on the content of your posting, which remains refreshingly respectful of those with whom you disagree. It’s just too many posts and too many rotating personalities for a single thread.

    Thanks for your cooperation.


  • #28- “No, we are not a marketing campaign”

    You just blew your cover with that comment. I’ll let you figure it out.

    “you sound like a marketing campaign to destroy GOOD change.’

    What change? When has there been any assertive effort put forth by the department that would give assurances of change? How are department members to know? Marketing thru this Blog is cowardice.

    After having attempted to promote beyond my current level and after having failed in attempts to gain coveted positions, I have always given the department the benefit of the doubt in that perhaps I just haven’t tried hard enough. But now, I just can’t help but think that my lack of progress may have been the consequences of my lack of campaign contributions. This is very disturbing. And now I’m asked to trust the department when the same leadership is in place that has yet to address this issue?

  • Like all slanted reporting, you can get people to say anything to support your bias opinion. Why don’t you have the courage to call Mr. Tanaka a liar? Hey told the Department and you what he meant! You don’t believe him because your BLOG does not search for truth. You have already made up your mind based on information from disgruntled ex and current employees. Pat Maxwell’s interpretation of The Gray Area Is his own. He has always operated in that misguided area which is why always in trouble throughout his career.

  • To My Three Cents: If you truly have been to a number of meetings then you know the truth. Sheriff Baca does love the department to a fault, but he trusts people he should not. Mr. Tanaka has an agenda and most of what has been said here is true.
    Yes Tanaka loves the department,but unfortunately he also loves power. His vision is for him to be in charge of his loyal followers.
    In law enforcement we need people from all backgrounds, education and cultures. There is not just one way to be a cop, there are hundreds.
    If the department was nothing but RII people, then we would have less crime, but many more law suits and no administrative support, nor people to talk to the citizens

  • I am not an insider and have no special access. I have only a very few key significant bits of information, my own personal interactions with the dept. and a long memory.

    My personal opinion says:

    Sheriff Baca’a strategy for building his power can be summarized with the example of “Mel Gibson’s Tequila”.

    Sheriff Baca wants everyone to understand how he accumulates and exercises power. Thats why he wants everyone to know that the partially consumed bottle of tequila taken from Mel Gibson during his DUI arrest in Malibu is kept locked in a safe in Baca’s office at LASD headquarters.

    Sheriff Baca has built his political power in basically the same method as Sheriffs across the nation going back to the beginning.

    Power is built through wielding control over information.

    Information on important/powerful individuals is valuable information. An opportunity to arrest a politician, celebrity, judge, businessman on a charge of DUI, domestic altercation, etc. is an opportunity to increase the Sheriff’s power base.

    The Sheriff adds to his power by collecting the evidence, not making the arrest and concealing the incident from public scrutiny.

    Likewise, Sheriff Baca can extract the most extreme loyalty from an underling through controlling the evidence of his transgressions.

    This type of extreme loyalty to the leader cannot be expected from individuals possessing a clean by-the-book resume.

    Only a deputy whose employee file contains evidence of defective behavior can be counted on for extreme loyalty to the man who has sheltered him from adverse consequences and maintains the secrecy of his past transgressions.

    Undersheriff Tanaka is the essential component for accelerating Baca’s power accumulation strategy within LASD.

    Tanaka’s active incitement to push the limits and cross the line will have different results with different individuals.

    Overall, it unleashes and unhinges individual deputies to act out their most aggressive tendencies in the field.

    The Baca system has perfected the machinery for concealing the identity and protecting the employment of a deputy involved in a tragic and controversial incident.

    That same deputy is now well-situated for career ascendance within the Sheriff Baca system.

  • Amen to #32. I also know of a Sgt. being shielded by “The Baca System”. You need not have a conscience if you want to climb up this ladder.

  • To #30 figures,

    Very curious statement you made. If, as you say, Pat Maxwell was
    “always in trouble throughout his career”


    lol…everybody knows the answer to that question. Baca chose him as his driver. Then promoted him to the rank of Lieutenant, then Captain.

    Once again, some people, in trying to defend the Sheriff, would serve their master better by remaining silent. lol

  • ATQ. actually, it was his daddy Larry Waldie who protected the hypocrite Maxwell from all his shenanigans. As is said in police work: sometimes you have to dance with the devil to get the job done.

  • Glad to take a break and come back to see how all the players are posturing. here’s my take. My 3 cents is being bagged on for not approaching the top brass. John Clark did it, Bob Olmstead did it and what happened? Nothing. That’s why we need to vent here and hope people pick up on it

    As far as Baca, he is insulated. His personal Reserves who promote,donate, wine and dine him are immeasurable.

    From car dealers, money extorters, to his Korean, chinese, indonesian counsels, etc., these people like power, want a gun and badge and former Waldie has hired friends with criminal backgrounds, only to get called out on state audits.

    There are still people on the Department who are tasked to be the facilitator of personal reserve recruiters for baca and tanaka. So, that being said: regardless of who investigates what, when and where, the top two have and extreme shield of political insulation, and those on the inside who try to address any negativity will pay the price.

    It’s a pathetic explanation, but all of you who work in the system know my POV

  • #36
    Who was it that gave Waldie the nod so he could protect Maxwell? Maxwell was Baca’s driver. You can’t tell me that if Leroy Baca wasn’t ok with Maxwell being promoted to Captain it would have happened anyway.
    The buck stops at the top.
    That being said, you’re probably right concerning Maxwell being taken care of by Waldie. Maxwell worked Walnut where Waldie was the Captain. Then when Baca becomes Sheriff and brings Waldie into his inner circle, Waldie recommends Maxwell for Baca’s driver….and voila…his career takes off from there.
    BUT, as I stated before, if, like #30 suggests, Maxwell was in trouble throughout his career, it’s an indictment of Baca that he was promoted to the rank of Captain.
    No other way to look at it.

  • So, Baca looks the other way at all of Maxwell’s “shenanigans” and promotes him to the rank of Captain.
    And now Maxwell isn’t the “loyal team player”….and now the people on this jail commision have GOT to be asking themselves…Gee, if Maxwell isn’t a reliable source of info., and if he’s a disgruntled employee, why was he promoted on up through the ranks?

    Baca only has himself to blame for promoting him.
    I guess we can chalk that up as just another one of the Sheriff’s mistakes.

  • Who said anything about Maxwell? I worked for him at a UOS. He’s the only Captain who”chews” in his office. lol.

    My point is all of the outside political influences. Remember, Baca is elected.

    I’ve seen enough Korean BBQ meet and greets, promises to make everyone a Reserve or Advisory guru than you can shake a stick at. I’ve seen the presentations in the EPC rooms over and over and on his weekly gatherings.

    Don’t believe me? Just ask his driver.

    All I’m saying is Lee is a very powerful and political influence. He won’t get recalled or not elected again. His political constituants are larger and reaching more than you can imagine……

  • FTF, I think you are sadly mistaken. Baca may be “powerful” in some circles, however his influence is diminishing by the minute. His political constituents are not going to open their pockets books to bail out a corrupt politician, plain and simple.

    Beyond that, there are many other reasons. In 2002 voters approved term limits for the office of sheriff, when Baca was the incumbent. It passed with 61% of the votes. That is significant. In 1998 Block was in the same position you claim Baca is now in, and we know how that worked out. More recently, Carmen Trutanich was the incumbent city attorney, all the connections and money up the kazoo, and he did not even make the runoff over two unknown candidates.

    Baca is toast, count on it…

  • My prediction:
    IF the feds don’t indict some high level execs., this will all blow over. The CCJV will make recommendations and they will be followed. Maybe a consent decree will come down the pike.
    By 2014, IF him or none of his key people are charged and prosecuted, this will be a disatnt memory. IF Leroy Baca decides to run again he will be reelected.

    Who’s got the money to run against him? Paul Tanaka? lol

  • ATQ, you have too many “ifs” in your theory. Fact: Trutanich raised more than $1.5 million, TV commercials, endorsements, the whole nine yards. He outraised his main three competitors COMBINED. And what did that get him? A prime seat on the sidelines. In fact, Trutanich raised more for this campaign than Baca did in his last three combined!

    People are fed up with corruption, and Baca is the poster boy. They will not forget, neither will the good people still left on the Department who want to clean house.

  • Well, it comes down to one “if” really. If he runs again.
    Make no mistake about it LATBG, I hope your’re right. I’m afraid you’re wrong.
    You keep hanging your hat on the Trutanich situation.
    There are a few differences. They are huge. Trutanich wasn’t an incumbent for the office he was running for. He hadn’t been able to hand out favors from that office like Baca has. In other words, the machine wasn’t in place for 16 years (how long Baca will be in office in 2014).

    Let’s cut all the bullshit. Let me ask you this. With what’s going on, and everybody knowing the score, WHY HASN’T THE BOARD OF SUPS TAKEN ACTION ALREADY?

    THAT’S political power my friend. Trutanich didn’t have it. Baca does.

  • Things, you’re absolutely right. As I stated, Baca is connected, has a huge and very wealthy asian influence. His armenian counterparts have a stronghold as well. that’s why when you give badges and guns, the same that our deputies wear and use to uphold our laws and communites, you get in return political insulation.

    That’s why the Board won’t touch him, cuz they represent these same scandelous cluckheads in their respective districts. That is a painful dilemma

  • We will agree to disagree. Trutanich was the incumbent city attorney running for district attorney, and there is an overlap of about 50% of the registered voters, close enough for a good sample of what’s to come.

    I have heard repeatedly about Baca’s alleged political power but this needs to be placed in perspective. Both the state attorney general and the DA’s race had Baca endorsing the “establishment” candidates, who lost handidly.

    The bigger question to be answered is why would anyone vote for a fifth Baca term? The “power” that impresses some also repels voters unhappy with the status quo, career politicians in general, and corruption.

    Time will tell.

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