Los Angeles County has introduced its new undersheriff Monday, nearly four years after its former undersheriff resigned in scandal.
At a press conference Monday at the Hall of Justice, Jacques “Anthony” La Berge, the assistant sheriff in charge of patrol operations, accepted the role, which has been vacant since his predecessor, Paul Tanaka, resigned in March 2013.
“I humbly accept the opportunity to lead our 18,000-strong organization,” he said to a small crowd of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) colleagues and reporters.
In his acceptance speech, La Berge thanked the LASD and his family for their ongoing support and inspiration. La Berge also acknowledged his department’s struggle through a difficult period in its history, and called for a new team of executives who were the “cream of the crop" to move the county forward.
“We have a lot of vacancies to fill,” he said. “And we’re only as good and strong as the people who are working in this organization serving the residents of L.A. County.”
La Berge, a 31-year veteran of the sheriff's department, is one of several high-level executives being promoted from within as L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell attempts to lead the department "beyond the dark days of the past."
“Specifically,” McDonnell wrote for SCVNews.com. “I have been looking to identify the department’s future leaders who will withstand the public and internal scrutiny which is, and should be, the standard of all law enforcement executives.”
In his new role, La Berge will be second-in-command to the sheriff. The other appointments include Bobby Denham, a 38-year veteran of the department, who will replace La Berge as assistant sheriff of patrol operations, and Eddie Rivero, a 27-year veteran, who will become assistant sheriff of countywide services operations.
On Nov 30, McDonnell outlined his decision process to appoint La Berge and the rest of the executive team in an online editorial. During his search for replacements, he said he only considered individuals that showed great competence, deep compassion and character.
La Berge has served in the Sheriff's Department's jail system, special enforcement bureau and transit services. He was placed in Compton and Santa Clarita stations and served as chief of North Patrol Division, where he oversaw the Antelope Valley Settlement Agreement.
La Berge's predecessor, Paul Tanaka, has since been convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy for his role in a plot to thwart a federal investigation into inmate mistreatment in county jails. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
The appointment of La Berge and other executives comes during a wave of changes to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Last month, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors established a “game changing” Civilian Oversight Commission with the goal to increase transparency and trust between the Sheriff’s Department and communities across Los Angeles.
At Monday’s press conference, McDonnell said he expects many more personnel changes in the coming months.
You can watch the full press conference below: