The embattled top cop of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will call it quits later this month as allegations of corruption within his force continue to emerge.
Sheriff Lee Baca said on Tuesday that he will retire from law enforcement at the end of January following 48 years of service with the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’m not going to seek re-election for a fifth term as sheriff and I will retire at the end of this month,” Baca, 71, told reporters at Tuesday’s press conference. His last 15 years were spent as sheriff atop a police force that patrols a region of Southern California with a population of roughly 10 million.
Under Baca’s control, the LA County Sheriff’s Department and its roughly 10,000 employees oversaw the largest jail system of its kind in the country. That administration has come under heavy attack in recent weeks, however, particularly in light of a federal probe that last month accused 18 current or former deputies from his department with an array of civil liberties violations.
Prosecutors brought the recent allegations against the Sheriff’s Department after investigations conducted by a grand jury revealed “a wide scope of illegal conduct” waged under Baca’s watch, US Attorney AndrÃ© Birotte Jr. said last month.
“The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law,” Birotte said.
“Please know that I respect the criminal justice system, and no one is above the law,” Baca responded at the time, adding that “99.9 percent of our employees are on the right track, doing the right thing.”