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Sheriff Lee Baca to 'lead from the front' and join command staff in filling gaps in patrol, jail duties

March 3, 2010 | 10:45 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/images/2008/06/13/baca.jpg

With deep cuts expected to move hundreds of Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies from desk duties to street patrols, don't be surprised to see the most visible of their ranks cruising in a patrol car or walking the halls of the County Jail.

Sheriff Lee Baca told The Times he plans to "lead from the front" with the rest of his command staff, from the rank of captain and above, to fill possible shift gaps caused by cuts in overtime.

“I will go out into the field and into the jails,” Baca said Tuesday, noting he would be working those assignments once or twice a month and possibly weekend shifts in coming weeks.

Plans call for the Sheriff's Department to reduce its budget by $128 million over the next 16 months, amounting to about 9% of the nearly $1.3-billion total it receives from the county.

The overtime reduction will save about $58 million, and the department will glean another $26 million in savings by transferring hundreds of inmates from the 1,900-bed detention center in Castaic to other jails in the county system, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

The department also will eliminate 300 frozen positions for a savings of $44 million.

Baca said everyone will have to make sacrifices in the tough budget environment.

"We don’t join law enforcement agencies to provide services based on convenience," Baca said. "Police work is the ultimate career of inconvenience."

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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