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Letters: Baca on 'Friends of the Sheriff'

Re "'Friends of the sheriff,'" Dec. 19

This article makes a mountain out of a molehill. As The Times notes, the Sheriff's Department watchdog in 2009 found no evidence that applicants hired through the "Friends of the Sheriff" program routinely received preferential treatment.

Here's what the Office of Independent Review (OIR) reported:

"While 'FOS' stands for 'Friends of the Sheriff,' the sheriff himself actually knows virtually none of the individuals on the list ….

"In analyzing personnel files of a sample of the applicants on the FOS list, OIR has determined that there is no evidence that these applicants routinely receive preferential treatment during the background investigation process. If anything, these applicants receive greater scrutiny. As explained by former and current Personnel Bureau's Background Investigations Unit (BIU) personnel, the greater scrutiny allows BIU to say with confidence to any department member or employee who asks that a disqualified FOS applicant was not qualified to be a peace officer….

"The FOS list might more aptly be titled 'Applicants Who Know Someone on the Sheriff's Department.'"

I serve Los Angeles County with pride and take my job seriously. I believe the public would be better served by less sensational reporting.

Lee Baca

Los Angeles

The writer is the sheriff of Los Angeles County.

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