The Los Angeles Times reported late Jan. 6 that LA Sheriff Lee Baca would announce his retirement Tuesday, a month after 18 Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) officials were charged with federal crimes ranging from excessive force used on jail inmates and visitors to hiding an FBI informant from his handlers. The announcement is expected at a 10am (PT) press conference. From the LA Times this morning:
The news of Baca's decision to step down has stunned people inside and outside the Sheriff's Department. He was locked in a tough reelection battle amid several scandals that beset the department.
Baca, 71, told top officials in county government late Monday that he believes stepping down would help the department recover after several years of tumult and criticism, according to sources familiar with the conversations.
"This scandal has been developing over the years. It's not as if these indictments came down in a vacuum," said Legal Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU-SC), Peter Eliasberg to Reason TV in Dec. 2013. "When you have 18 that are federally indicted. That's a major, major problem."
For more on problems in the L.A. County Jail system watch, LA County Jail Officers Charged with Federal Crimes; Jail monitors Respond:
Baca also faced criticism over hiring numerous problem officers in 2010 that had histories of misconduct at other law enforcement agencies, had solicited prostitutes, falsified police records and unlawfully discharged firearms. LASD admitted to hiring at least 80 problem officers but still may not be able to fire them because they hired them knowing they had problems.
For more on the LASD and misconduct in the department, read and watch LA County Sheriff's Hassle Photographer, Trample Constitution, Get Lauded by Bosses:
"I will go out on my terms," said Sheriff Lee Baca to reporters and supporters at a press conference outside LASD headquarters. Baca prasied LASD as the "greatest law enforcement agency in the world," after saying he would retire, effective at the end of January 2014.
Baca said he would recommend Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald as interim Sheriff. From the LASD website:
Terri McDonald, a 24-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) was recently appointed to the position of Assistant Sheriff by Sheriff Lee Baca and will oversee the Custody Division of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Here is the press release featuring Baca's statements from today's press conference.