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LA County Sheriff Lee Baca appears before supervisors over jails report

October 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca reacted Tuesday to a citizens commission report on jail violence. One of its charges is that Baca turned a blind eye on beatings in the county jail system, the nation's largest. Baca says he's on board with the suggested changes and has some of his own.

Baca has been under intense criticism for the violence in the Los Angeles County jails. A citizens commission report condemned the use of force by deputies. And the committee came up with a list of recommendations.

Among them is to have a separate fulltime staff of jail custody deputies. Now deputies serve several years in the jails before going out to patrol the streets.

Baca says 20 of the 63 recommendations have been implemented. A key recommendation is for an inspector general to lead the custody division.

"I'm open to a collaborative selection process," Baca said Tuesday at a meeting with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky quickly interrupted Baca.

"Stop right there. You're not going to select the inspector general. The inspector general as proposed, assuming we endorse the proposal, is to report to the Board of Supervisors," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas made it clear he wants Baca to move in a different direction than the sheriff has in the past.

Baca agreed to implement all the citizens commission recommendations. He agrees there needs to be a new assistant sheriff in charge of custody. There are several lawsuits pending regarding allegations of deputy use of force in the jails.

"Right now we are talking about millions of dollars that are going to be spent in the next year to two years just on legal fees alone," said Supervisor Gloria Molina.

"I went through all the recommendations thoroughly with my key management task force commanders and we all agreed that they are very reachable," said Baca. "I thought they were rather reasonable."

Those recommendations include the sheriff being personally engaged in the jail oversight. That, says Baca, has been implemented.

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