Join The Times' book club. This month's selection: "Cadillac Desert"
Opinion Opinion L.A.

Lee Baca: The sheriff L.A. County voters deserve?

If The Times’ letter writers were solely responsible for picking the L.A. County sheriff, Lee Baca would probably be out of a job.

The four-term sheriff — whose department was thoroughly frisked Monday by the feds with the arrest of 18 current and former deputies following an investigation into inmate beatings and other forms of mistreatment in L.A. County jails — is getting most of the blame from readers. Some of the letters accuse Baca of being disingenuous in his expression of sadness at the arrests, while others say it’s about time the law came down on deputies accused of beating jail inmates.

Baca and his department have their defenders among Times letter writers (including the sheriff himself), but most recently, readers by and large haven’t been kind. Last week, two of the three letters published in response to Times articles on the hiring of deputies with questionable backgrounds were critical of the department; one noted how Baca (and his spokesman) seem to be constantly on the defense. Most notably, L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina took to The Times’ letters page on Aug. 10 to call for a strong challenger to Baca in 2014, noting that only voters — and not supervisors — can fire the sheriff. Her point has been echoed by other letter writers who say the voters deserve much of the blame.

SOCAL POLITICS IN 2013: Some rose, some fell -- and L.A. lost its women, almost

Here is some of the reaction so far.

Glendale resident Homer Alba says Baca’s fate is up to voters:

“I moved to the Los Angeles area many years ago, and besides the beautiful weather, the only constant is news of Baca’s repeated dereliction of duty to county residents.

“Am I to believe that the L.A. County electorate is so desperately attached to this man that it is willing to accept his failings without a hint of outrage? If we reelect this man as our sheriff, then we deserve more of the same news for another long period of time.

“As for Baca, if he had any sense of decency, he would tender his resignation immediately.”

James D. Ulrich of Signal Hill says one quality elected official out of three isn’t bad:

“Besides the five emperors on the Board of Supervisors, we have three elected officials in county government:

“Assessor John Noguez was arrested on corruption charges last year and awaits trial.

“Sheriff Lee Baca is hanging on by his fingernails.

“Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey? So far, so good.

“Congratulations, L.A. County voters: One out of three ain’t bad!”

Anaheim Hills resident Ted Stulz questions the sheriff’s sincerity:

“Baca said he was saddened by the findings of the federal investigation. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was saddened because they were discovered or because they were publicly revealed. Or is it because of both?”

Alan Sworski of Thousand Oaks places Baca among less-than-honorable company:

“It looks as if Baca is the new Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.”

Agoura Hills resident Marcy Bregman says the department had this coming:

“Surprise? After all the years of countless complaints against the jails staff and the Sheriff's Department, the headlines should have read, ‘It’s about time.’ ”


Triumph of the vulgarians

The saddest Christmas wish lists ever

Are America’s students falling behind the world?

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • The hung jury in the Etan Patz case was right

    The hung jury in the Etan Patz case was right

    A judge in New York City declared a mistrial Friday in the case of Pedro Hernandez, a disabled factory worker charged in one of the most famous child abductions in modern memory: the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz more than 30 years ago.

  • L.A. City Atty. Feuer makes valid case for funding under Prop. 47

    L.A. City Atty. Feuer makes valid case for funding under Prop. 47

    Proposition 47, adopted last month, turned six drug possession and low-level property felonies into misdemeanors, setting in motion some rejiggering of California's criminal justice system. Among the changes in Los Angeles is the transfer of caseloads among jurisdictions: Many crimes formerly prosecuted...

  • Why the police shouldn't use Glocks

    Why the police shouldn't use Glocks

    Timothy Stansbury died in a New York housing project stairwell in 2004 because he startled a police officer. The officer's surprise at encountering Stansbury caused the officer's hand to clench and his weapon to fire. The death was ruled accidental by a grand jury, though the officer was later...

  • Nurturing smart justice in Los Angeles County

    Nurturing smart justice in Los Angeles County

    Nearly four years ago, California's 58 counties and their jails began taking on some of the state's burden of housing and supervising nonviolent felons, and contrary to widespread belief, the shift wasn't merely a result of federal court orders to reduce the state prison population. In fact, policymakers...

  • There is no justice in prisons' race-based punishment

    There is no justice in prisons' race-based punishment

    The incident in 2006 was in some ways typical: A group of inmates at High Desert State Prison near Susanville attacked two corrections officers, and prison officials responded with a race-based lockdown, keeping African American prisoners confined to their cells for 14 months.

  • Who can get access to police files in California?

    Who can get access to police files in California?

    In California, police officers have a right to keep their personnel files confidential. At the same time, all criminal prosecutors are constitutionally bound to disclose to the defendant any evidence that's reasonably likely to affect a conviction or punishment.

  • Despite Tsarnaev, the death penalty is on the decline

    Despite Tsarnaev, the death penalty is on the decline

    The execution of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing — if it ever takes place — will quite possibly be the last of its kind, remembered as the last time the federal government put a person to death.

  • Time for young feminists to look beyond the mattress and campus rape

    Time for young feminists to look beyond the mattress and campus rape

    It's a striking juxtaposition, to say the least. In the news this week we've seen photos of hundreds of girls and young women, many of them pregnant, recently rescued from captivity and sexual slavery at the hands of Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group in Nigeria. We've also seen photos of...