County sheriff stacks his values against a "self-limiting" legacy
By Joe Domanick
Then last July, Baca unveiled a plan that embodied his unconventional approach to law enforcement. It called for civilian oversight and supervision of his department's investigations of officer-involved shootings, abuse and misconduct. What made Baca's proposal even more groundbreaking was that the civilians chosen to head and staff his new Office of Independent Review would be civil rights attorneys, traditionally anathema to overzealous police officers. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky hailed the plan as an "unprecedented leap in the history of law enforcement."
Baca, 58, has spent nearly 36 years in the Sheriff's Department. Working his way up through the ranks from deputy sheriff trainee through commander of numerous sheriff's stations, he now leads a force of 13,000 deputies and civilian personnel who police 2.5 million people and run the nation's largest urban jail system. Yet, he looks and sounds more like a well-prepared systems analyst than a veteran cop.
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