New LA sheriff-to-be talks about fixing the mess

New sheriff-designate John Scott meets the media with the Board of Supervisors at his side. Photo: ZevWeb.

Sheriff Lee Baca officially retires from county service at noon on Thursday. The Board of Supervisors this week appointed John Scott, a 36-year veteran of the force who left nine years and became the number two in Orange County, to run the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. In a piece on the news website of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, he talks about what he saw going awry when he left in 2005 and why he came back. (His wife, a former LASD captain, also left her career over the way things were headed under Baca.) Scott, incidentally, says he will not run for a full term in this year's primary or general elections.

“I thought the direction of the department was taking a turn that I did not want to be part of,” Scott recalled. “I saw diminished accountability. I saw fragmentation within the department. I saw some people who did not represent the best interests of the department.”

Scott said he felt “an obligation to talk to the sheriff.” But after voicing his concerns, he said he did not believe he had the support he needed “to fight the good fight.” So in March of 2005, he retired.

But on Tuesday afternoon, nearly nine years later, he was back, standing before a bank of TV cameras in the downtown Hall of Administration....

Scott said he’s optimistic that changes in policy and direction can come quickly. But he said he’s realistic about the deeper cultural changes. “That’s a time-tested kind of process,” he said. “It’s like turning that big aircraft carrier.”

In Orange County, he said, some members of the department who resisted change ended up leaving the department because “it was heading down a different path—not one they chose. What you’re left with are people who have bought in.” He said he suspects the same thing could happen in Los Angeles.

More at ZevWeb.

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