After 16 years on the job, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca announced his retirement at a 10 a.m. press conference Tuesday. His retirement is effective at the end of January.
"I have great gratitude to the people who elected me. At the same time that I was elected to four terms, I will go our on my terms. I am not going to seek reelection for a fifth term as Sheriff, and I will retire at the end of this month," said Baca. "The reasons for doing so are so many. Some are most personal and private, but the prevailing one is the negative perception this upcoming campaign has brought to the exemplary service provided to the men and women of the Sheriff's Dept."
His resignation comes after many accusations and scandals that plagued the department, which include 18 of his deputies facing federal charges for inmate abuse.
Besides the Board of Supervisors, the sheriff also informed his top command staff late Monday, according to media reports.
"I think he did a good thing for the county," ACLU of Southern California legal director Peter Eliasberg tells KPCC. "I think that the scandals and the problems that have beset the Sheriff's Department for the past four or five years, it’s really important that Los Angeles get the sheriffs department back on the right track and I think that would be very, very difficult for that to happen with Sheriff Baca running the department."
County supervisor Don Knabe received the news from Baca last night. He says he was surprised by his decision, because there was no hint that he might not run for reelection.
"I was shocked. I talked to him over the weekend about the Oversight Commission and we had a lengthy conversation on that issue. No conversation about not running for reelection," said Knabe on Take Two. "If he decides to retire immediately, then the board will be put in a position where we would appoint an interim sheriff that would serve until December until this year."
Knabe also says his decision to announce his resignation now, and not later in his term, leaves the door open for people who might not have run against him.
"From that standpoint, I appreciate what he's done," said Knabe.
Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka released a statement about Baca's retirement:
“Sheriff Baca and I have had our differences regarding the leadership and management of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He's voiced his opinions publicly as have I. I’ll talk about that during my campaign, but I want to put politics aside for today and applaud him for his dedication to public service. This is a tough job and I want to thank Sheriff Baca for his decades of public service to Los Angeles County."