What possible argument is there for a fifth term for Baca? Evidence that sheriff's deputies regularly beat inmates in the jails is mounting, and a wide-ranging federal investigation has been launched, including an
Baca has repeatedly claimed to be unaware of the troubling goings-on in the department he's supposed to lead — the violence, the gang-like cliques of deputies, the dearth of meaningful oversight. But lack of knowledge is no excuse. That's why the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence blasted him last year for ignoring multiple warnings and declining to ask probing questions or to implement reforms. The commission called it a failure of leadership and concluded that if the CEO of a private company had been so completely in the dark, his board of directors would probably have replaced him.
Next June, the voters of Los Angeles County will be asked to elect a sheriff. So far, no credible challengers have emerged. Baca's likely opponents include Lou Vince, a little-known Los Angeles police officer, and Patrick Gomez, a retired Sheriff's Department lieutenant who has twice run unsuccessfully for the job. Paul Tanaka, Baca's former top aide, is rumored to be preparing to challenge his former boss, but he has been accused of encouraging misconduct and abuse in the department.
It is extremely difficult for an outside candidate to raise the money or build the campaign organization necessary to unseat an incumbent. In fact, at least since 1932, no incumbent L.A. County sheriff has ever been unseated. If Baca were to announce that he would not run again, it would open up the field and make a credible race by a credible candidate much more likely.