Sheriff Lee Baca said at his press conference this morning that he is retiring in part to help alleviate negative perceptions of the Sheriff's Department going into an election campaign. He said he won't seek a fifth term and recommended that the Board of Supervisors appoint Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald to run the department after he leaves. “I don’t see myself as the future, I see myself as part of the past,” Baca said, sometimes becoming emotional.
He described Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers and Assistant Sheriff James Hellmold as "highly qualified" to run for the top job, if they choose to be candidates. He said part of the reason for his sudden decision to retire was to clear the way for candidates, such as those two, who would not have run if Baca remained in the race.
Audio from KPCC's "Take Two"
The LASD sent out this statement from Baca:
I have been proud and honored to serve the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the people of Los Angeles County for the past 48 years – which has made this decision the most difficult of my professional life.
I am not going to seek re-election to a fifth term as Sheriff, and I will retire at the end of this month.
The reasons for doing so are many, and some are most personal and private, but the prevailing one is the negative perception this upcoming campaign has brought to the exemplary service provided by the men and women of the Sheriff’s Department. They have conducted themselves with the utmost integrity and professionalism, resulting in yet another year of historic crime reductions not seen in nearly half-a-century.
Your Sheriff’s Department is the greatest law enforcement agency in the nation, and I want to thank the men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for their hard work, dedication, and sacrifice exhibited daily.
To the people of Los Angeles County, I also extend a deep sense of gratitude for allowing me to serve for the past 48 years.
As your elected Sheriff for the past 15 years, I have held fast to the Core Values of this great department.
And they are:
“As a leader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, I commit myself to perform my duties with respect for the dignity of all people, integrity to do right and fight wrongs, wisdom to apply common sense and fairness in all I do, and courage to stand against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and bigotry in all its forms.”
Sheriff Lee Baca
And this Twitter photo from the LASD: