LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday admitted to employing as many as 80 deputies with questionable backgrounds.
Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers revealed that when the department absorbed the county’s Office of Public Safety in 2010, the department hired people who never should have been hired in the first place due to serious flaws in their background or criminal records.
Some of the deputies who were approved for hire included an admitted rapist, a man who said he fell in love with a 14-year-old girl and had an affair with her, and another deputy who said he worked for a different police agency where he beat up inmates.
Instead of showing up to a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation, Sheriff Lee Baca sent a letter in which he explained that none of it was his fault, reported KCAL9’s Dave Lopez.
“The sheriff not taking ownership and the leadership that is required of this department, it is hurting every single one of us in L.A. County,” Supervisor Gloria Molina said.
Baca, however, later told Lopez, “Our background investigators did an outstanding job. They found out things the prior hiring process did not. So now we’re in a dilemma. This isn’t about me taking on a sense of hysterical behavior. This is me fixing things. This is what I believe in.”
Asked if he had knowledge of the situation, Baca said, “How does one find knowledge when you rely on your subordinates?”
Max Huntsman, who begins his job as inspector general next year, will have the power to investigate the sheriff and to force changes.
“I’m not going to be his lawyer, I’m gonna be the board’s representative. Looking in from the outside. So it’s not going to be some backroom with cigars or anything like that, but we’re definitely going to meet,” Huntsman said.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore says that the department will reform hiring practices by adding an extra layer to the process— a three-member panel to review applications. The panel will include two lieutenants and a civilian.
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