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L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca Launches Investigation Into Questionable Hires

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca has launched an investigation into his department’s decision to hire dozens of officers from a disbanded county police force who may have checkered pasts.

The L.A. Times reports it received leaked internal hiring files involving nearly 300 applicants who had previously been officers with the now-defunct Office of Public Safety, which was responsible for security at county buildings, hospitals and parks.

According to the Times, those internal personnel files reveal proven and unproven allegations that some applicants had falsified police records, cheated on polygraph exams, had sex at work and solicited prostitutes.

The Times also reported nearly 30 deputies were hired who had previously been fired or pressured to resign from other law enforcement agencies.

“I’m here to say that I’m held accountable, that I’m the one who should understand what this is about, that I will take the criticism for what occurs and that I will make it better,” Baca said during a press conference Wednesday.

“We did a job that could have been done better,” he said.

Baca explained that many of the hires were brought on board in the 90s and were long-term employees, creating an extra challenge for the department during the vetting process.

Baca said he is conducting an internal investigation and will report back to the Board of Supervisors within two weeks.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is eager for answers, adding that it’s “absolutely correct” to assert there are officers who could be wearing badges today who shouldn’t be.

“How did they get through? And what are we doing to prevent that from happening in the future?” he asked. “At the end of the day, bad apples are going to spoil the whole barrel.”

Supervisor Yaroslavsky said an independent investigation will also be conducted by the newly-named Inspector General Max Huntsman — a Deputy D.A. who will begin his independent oversight of the sheriff’s department after the first of the year.

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