LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The annual independent review of the LA County Sheriff’s Department released Thursday offered a positive opinion of Sheriff Lee Baca and a harsher survey of the department.
“You’re always going to have misconduct. For me, one of the barometers is how a department responds to it,” according to Michael Gennaco, the chief attorney who prepares the Office of Independent Review report. The OIR acts as a third-party report card on the Sheriff’s Department.
Those responses included 97 employee dismissals in 2013, that’s 30 more firings than the previous two years combined.
“I think the last year and a half he’s been more engaged than he ever was,” Gennaco said of Baca, who’s leaving office next week.
Baca has held monthly meetings with his staff on hiring practices and has been getting involved during the firing process.
“I think he had a better knowledge about what was going on, but it took these external influences, I think, to help get him motivated, to get more engaged in these areas,” Gennaco said.
The installation of more than 800 security cameras in the Men’s Central Jail is credited with a drop in abuse allegations against deputies.
“We now have situations in which 90 percent of the force, that is what occurs in the jail, is caught on camera. We have a video record of that force,” Gennaco said.
Baca reportedly saw the report Wednesday and was not present at the official release meeting held Thursday.
The sheriff’s spokesperson Steve Whitmore was on hand for the meeting and said Baca was, overall, quite pleased with the results.
“So his reaction is that it’s very sobering when he reads this, especially now when…there’s a lot of criticism and controversy,” said Whitmore, referring to criticism of Baca’s leadership.