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Sheriff Baca and the jails scandal: What's the end game? [Video discussion]

September 24, 2012 |  2:47 pm

Sheriff Lee Baca and his department are facing a new round of criticism over alleged misconduct by deputies in the L.A. County jail system.

Times staff writer Robert Faturechi will discuss the controversy and where it leaves Baca in a Google + Hangout on Monday at 3 p.m. PST.

   Full coverage: Crisis in the Sheriff's Department

Faturechi and reporter Jack Leonard look at the political dynamics in a story last week:

Facing severe criticism of his leadership, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca finds himself confronting his toughest political test since he took the helm of the nation's largest sheriff's department nearly 14 years ago.

A damning presentation by investigators to a county commission examining jail violence depicted Baca as a disengaged and uninformed manager who failed to prevent abuse of inmates by jail deputies. Federal authorities are investigating his department, including whether his deputies brutalized prisoners and harassed minority residents of the Antelope Valley. And the sheriff is facing growing political pressure to overhaul his jails and revamp his senior management team.

"The sheriff should be sweating an awful lot of bullets," said Supervisor Gloria Molina. "This is his come-to-Jesus moment."

The next few months will be crucial. Baca says he has already taken steps to reduce violence in the jails and defends his record while also resisting calls to discipline his top aides. His spokesman has said the sheriff would not commit to carrying out all of the commission's suggested reforms until he sees them. They are expected to be released later this month.

Molina said she believes the sheriff is capable of addressing the problems that afflict his jails but must get rid of his top assistant, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was accused by commission investigators of urging deputies to be aggressive and discouraging investigations of misconduct. She said she would call for Baca's resignation if he does not embrace the commission's advice.

 

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