Above the Law

Teflon Sheriff Lee Baca's Inmate Beatings Problem Puts Him in Hot Seat as County Commission on Jail Violence Meets

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Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 12:28 PM

click to enlarge Lee Baca. - DAVID MARKLAND
  • David Markland
  • Lee Baca.
We call him the Teflon Sheriff because despite a decade's worth of allegations that deputies sometimes allegedly beat L.A. County Jail inmates (and visitors) for no good reason, Lee Baca keeps getting reelected by you, the people.

Well, that nonstick coating will be put to the test this week as the County Board of Supervisors' Citizens Commission on Jail Violence gets to work looking into the accusations that Baca has only recently acknowledged.

The commission can't fire Baca, but it's made up of some tough characters, and if we were the county's top cop, we'd be a little scared:

-Judge Carlos R. Moreno, appointed by Supervisor Gloria Molina, is a former California Supreme Court Associate Justice.

-Long Beach police Chief and former LAPD First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, appointed by Supervisor Don Knabe. He was once a top candidate to lead the L.A. department.

click to enlarge Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray.
  • Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray.

-Civil rights champion and Reverend Cecil "Chip" Murray. He was appointed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose office calls him "the pre-eminent moral force in the local and national conversation about the relationship of minority communities to the law enforcement structure."

-Lourdes G. Baird, a former U.S. Attorney and federal judge, appointed by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

-Dickran Tevrizian, a retired U.S. District Judge, appointed by Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

Sounds like a formidable body. But Chief McDonnell told us early this month its mission wasn't to tar and feather Baca, even if he might (or might not) end up looking politically challenged after the process is completed:

I'm not going into it looking to criticize any individual. We look at procedures, tactics ... and to see if we have recommendations to make things better.

The commission meets Friday at 2 p.m. in the Board Hearing Room at the Hall of Administration.

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