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'L.A.' an epithet in race for Orange County sheriff

April 10, 2010 |  6:34 pm


After Orange County's sheriff was indicted on corruption charges on 2007, supervisors made a point of looking beyond the county limits to find a replacement who was free of the cronyism and scandal that had tainted the office.

A retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Department division chief, Sandra Hutchens was lauded by one county supervisor for being "removed from the political machinations in the county" and was seen as a welcome breath of fresh air in a department that had been led for decades by politically connected lawmen.

But now, facing her first election bid, Hutchens is fighting criticism that she's too much of an outsider, a career cop from Los Angeles who just doesn't understand Orange County.

As sheriff, Hutchens shook up her command staff, threatened to rescind concealed weapons permits handed out by former Sheriff Michael S. Carona and struck an independent tone that rubbed some county supervisors the wrong way, at times leaving them out of the loop or having to ask questions after decisions had been made.

Critics called it her L.A. style, a derisive term in Orange County's political sphere, where Los Angeles is seen as being too liberal, a place where headstrong and overly autonomous leaders reign.

Hutchens' opponents in the June election have made political ammunition out of her L.A. roots, hoping to end her tenure.

In deriding Hutchens' proposal to house federal immigration detainees in two county jails, one of her opponents, Anaheim Deputy Chief Craig Hunter, wrote, "That is how they balance budgets and fight crime in Los Angeles County, from where our current sheriff arrived."

Read the full story here.

--Raja Abdulrahim in Santa Ana

Photo: L.A. Times file