Talk back: Does Baca deserve 'Sheriff of the Year' award?
The National Sheriffs' Assn. announced it had named Baca "Sheriff of the Year," out of about 10 nominees from among the roughly 2,700 sheriffs who are members of the organization.
A panel of former winners, current sheriffs and corporate sponsors chose Baca after reviewing applications submitted for each of the nominees, a spokesman for the association told The Times' Robert Faturechi.
The association noted Baca's efforts to reach out to community religious groups and provide educational opportunities to jail inmates, as well as the size of the Sheriff's Department and relatively low crime rates in its jurisdiction.
But the news has drawn mixed results.
As Faturechi writes:
His spokesman said the honor was appropriate given Baca is "the most progressive sheriff in the nation" and "a guy that works seven days a week."
"This is his best year because people do their best when they face their biggest challenges and he is excelling," said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Baca's critics disagreed.
"You gotta be kidding," said Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California. "The years of malfeasance in the jails and the blatant failure of the sheriff to address the problems make his winning this award mind-boggling."
— Kate Mather
Photo: The National Sheriff's Assn. cited L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca's record for providing educational opportunities for jail inmates and his efforts to reach out to various religious groups in the community. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times