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Baca backs Prop C

Sometimes, the best ideas are the hardest to accept. In fact, these profound and necessary notions are dismissed outright as absurd, not on their merit, but on their appearance. I don’t want that to happen with Proposition C, and that’s why I’m writing this. I am seeking your support for Proposition C, which is on the March 5th ballot, and here’s why: Proposition C is designed to strengthen and modernize the command structure of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It will allow the Sheriff’s Department to increase the number of Assistant Sheriffs from 2 to 3, and increase the number of Division Chiefs from 8 to 12.

More important, it will allow us to hire civilians from outside the Department with a high degree of experience, skills, and expertise in specific fields of discipline that include technology, personnel, and finance. These areas are not best suited for deputy sheriffs trained in the ways of law enforcement.

At this juncture, let me deal with the obvious criticism. It would be easy to dismiss Proposition C as a veiled attempt to add another level of bureaucracy and raise taxes that are already through the roof. “That’s all we need, more bureaucrats,” you might say. I understand your concern, but that’s not going to happen with Proposition C. I assure you of that.

First, Proposition C, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors, does not raise taxes. Absolutely not. In fact, it should end up saving money because your Sheriff’s Department will have trained civilian administrators navigating the treacherous waters of budgets, technology, as well as personnel. These men and women will be chosen from these specific professional disciplines with proven, successful track records. And we can get more deputies back on the streets doing what they do best, which is law enforcement.

Second, this ballot measure also will rehabilitate a command structure written into the Los Angeles County Charter more than 30 years ago. This antiquated section of the charter is just no longer appropriate for what has evolved into the largest Sheriff’s Department in the nation and the second largest law enforcement agency in the country, second in size only to New York’s Police Department.

For a minute, let’s take a closer look at how Los Angeles County has changed in the last four decades. Since the charter was last amended in the 1960s, Los Angeles County has dramatically grown, as you might imagine. But the numbers are a bit staggering. In 1967, the population in Los Angeles County was 5.8 million. Today, that number is 9.8 million, nearly double. For that same year, the Department had 6,024 total personnel compared with nearly 16,000 today-more than double. And the list goes on. The number of cities your Sheriff’s Department patrols has grown from 23 to 41, while patrol stations have increased from 14 to 23. We have 10 jails now and we had 7 back in the 1960s, with the inmate population doubling , from 10,000 to 20,000.

As these changes have moved forward, the Sheriff’s Department command structure has remained relatively static. We did add one Assistant Sheriff over the years, but that’s woefully inadequate for the massive demands put on your Sheriff’s Department. We need the additional strength to keep us on-track with the growing demand for the high level of law enforcement services we provide.

In closing, let me say that your Sheriff’s Department is working hard to meet any and all challenges. We are a national leader in implementing homeland security, community based policing and effective gang, drug, and domestic violence prevention programs.

Proposition C will allow us at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to continue our internal reforms, add critical skills to identify and eliminate waste, and improve public accountability. I ask for your support. On March 5th, vote yes on Proposition C.

LeRoy D. Baca

Sheriff

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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