LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Orange County Undersheriff John Scott has been appointed the interim sheriff for LA County as Sheriff Lee Baca prepares to retire this week.
The LA County Board of Supervisors made a 4-1 decision Tuesday in favor of Scott after holding several closed-door meetings, according to Chairman Don Knabe.
Scott, who has 36 years of law enforcement experience, retired from the LA County Sheriff’s Department as the division chief of custody operations and joined the OC sheriff’s force, according to LA County spokesperson David Sommers.
“What do you think will be biggest challenge going in? What are you expecting?” CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Randy Paige asked Scott Tuesday.
Scott replied, “There are are operational challenges that have been identified by both the Department of Justice and the Blue Ribbon committee. There’s also at least five to seven candidates running, so you’re going to have some split in terms of division within the ranks. So, that’s going to be my first challenge, and that’s to get everyone moving in the same direction.”
The news comes days before Baca is set to retire on Friday, Knabe said.
Baca, who was elected to his post in 1998 and re-elected to a fourth term in 2010, announced earlier this month about his departure.
“I am not going to seek re-election as Sheriff and I will retire at the end of this month,” he said. “I’ll turn 72 years old in May and I don’t see myself as part of the future, but as part of the past.”
In the wake of several alleged scandals that prompted arrests within the department, Baca, who served 48 years in law enforcement, threw his support behind the creation of a civilian commission to oversee the department.
“I think an oversight commission is important,” Baca said. “We’re in the 21st century, and we want transparency; we want to be able to have the public’s trust.”
The most recent of those scandals involves the federal indictment of 18 former and current deputies in December for alleged crimes, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and assaulting inmates.
Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald took over management of the county jails last year in response to demands for reform from the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence. Baca suggested that she would make the best choice for interim sheriff, but McDonald did not meet the state qualifications for the job.
Voters will elect a new sheriff either in a June primary or November run-off election.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)