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Undersheriff Paul Tanaka leaving L.A. Sheriff's Department

March 6, 2013 |  3:14 pm

Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka in July 2012. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Paul Tanaka, the second in  command at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, who had come under criticism for problems that have plagued the agency, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Tanaka is retiring after 33 years with the department effective Aug. 1.

Whitmore said Tanaka's move was not related to a federal probe into allegations of inmate brutality in the county's jail system.

“I asked him that and he said no, it's just time,” Whitmore said. “The sheriff didn’t ask him to leave. This was done by his own volition."

Last year, a blue-ribbon commission issued a searing critique of  Baca, Tanaka and others, accusing them of fostering a culture in which deputies were permitted to beat and humiliate inmates, cover up misconduct and form aggressive deputy cliques in the Los Angeles County jails.

Tanaka came under harsh criticism from investigators for helping to promote the corrosive culture that contributed to many of the jails' problems.

Current and retired sheriff's officials have blamed Tanaka for some of the department's woes, saying that he openly fostered a climate in which deputies engaged in aggressive policing that violated the law and department policies.

Sheriff's officials rejected that criticism, saying that Tanaka was a well-respected leader in the department.

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--Robert Faturechi

Photo: Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka in July 2012. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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