Sheriff Lee Baca of Los Angeles County announced Tuesday he will retire, reversing his initial stance following the criticism of his department for a variety of issues, including alleged inmate abuse and federal investigations.
As former and current employees have been charged with a variety of crimes and the spotlight turned toward Baca’s leadership of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, Baca initially stated that he wouldn’t be forced into retirement.
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But this week, he announced he would not seek re-election and would end his 48-year law enforcement career, The Associated Press said
His announcement that he was leaving “on my terms” drew applause from gathered employees, according to the AP.
"The reasons for doing so are so many, some are most personal and private," Baca said, the AP reported. "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."
Although the sheriff had faced numerous issues during his time in office, recent indictments that accused sheriff’s employees of beating inmates and jail visitors have fired up the community.
On Tuesday, Baca did not answer any questions about whether he was concerned he might be indicted, but the AP said he did say more sheriff’s office employees may be indicted.
“I'm not afraid of reality. I'm only afraid of people who don't tell the truth," he said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that those close to Baca had advised him
to leave office, primarily because negativity in the department was interfering with officers’ abilities to do their jobs.
As allegations of misconduct filtered around the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, the Times said internal support for the sheriff wavered as he blamed some of the people who worked under him for the problems.
“Long time coming,” the Times quoted one of the aides saying right before the retirement news conference. The person was one who lost confidence in Baca’s ability to lead.
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