Sheriff Baca expected to announce retirement Tuesday morning

January 07, 2014

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m., with sources telling The Times he plans to announce his retirement.

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, the Los Angeles Times reports

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.


The expected announcement comes a month after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against 18 current and former sheriff's deputies accused of beating jail inmates and visitors, trying to obstruct theFBI and other crimes following an investigation of corruption inside the nation's largest jail system.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Sheriff's Department hiring practices

Baca won office in 1998 after his rival, incumbent Sheriff Sherman Block, died days before the election. In the next three elections, Baca easily won in primaries against fields of lesser-known candidates, avoiding head-to-head runoff elections. By 2010, no one bothered to challenge him.

During his career Baca advocated education and rehabilitation programs inside the county jails and reached out to the Muslim community after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But his tenure was also marked by periods of violence in the jails as well as overcrowding, which prompted the department to release inmates after serving only a fraction of their terms.

Recently, Baca was coping not just with the FBI probe but searing criticism of his leadership from a blue-ribbon commission appointed by the Board of Supervisors to examine allegations of jail abuse.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice accused sheriff's deputies of engaging in widespread unlawful searches of homes, improper detentions and unreasonable force as Antelope Valley authorities conducted a systematic effort to discriminate against African Americans who received low-income subsidized housing.

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