October 11, 2007

Where does Baca get his material?

Since when are "quotas" an innovative "new" form of policing? Been there done that. Management 101 Baca. Nothing in the Sheriff's department is innovative from what we have seen. Their crime stats were wrong for 2006 and it takes months for them to be posted even with the wrong data. Then they are next to unusable as there is no easy way to compare crimes, cities or date ranges. Just look at their stats page compared to other large departments like LAPD. LAAG asked for 2006 stats in spring 2007. No response. Ever. At all. Their computer systems are antiquated which is why their crime data and their response and cost data are so inaccurate. It is a big and an old department and not as nimble as smaller departments yet other departments of the same size are more "innovative". Just compare the websites of www.lasd.org with www.lapdonline.org. The difference might be attributed to the fact that LASD promotes from within (regardless of the Sheriff being elected), whereas LAPD gets chiefs through extensive job searches from the entire country. That is where they got "Broadway" Bill Bratton (we call him Broadway as he has never met a camera he did not like). The problem with sheriff elections is that there are never any real opponents. Most know once they run against the incumbent and loose their career is over.

When LAAG thinks of the LASD "innovative" is not a term that comes to mind. Lethargic, bloated, slow, bureaucratic, overpriced, inefficient, lazy, unorganized. Those are the terms that come to mind.

If LASD wants to be innovate here are some ideas to start with:

1. When people email or call LASD about an issue, respond, in the same manner, promptly, that you will look into the issue (or wont and why) and then follow up with the result (or no result). In the private sector we call it customer service. You should try it.

2. Get going on crime stats as you hold these up a some sort of a Holy Grail as to your usefulness. Look here for real ideas on innovation.

3. The Lakewood PAVE (Partnership, Accountability, Visibility, and Enforcement) Program is a beat program where deputies who work in the City of Lakewood are made accountable for specific geographical areas. In addition to their regular duties, deputies are assigned to individual beats to better serve Lakewood neighborhoods. PAVE Deputies are responsible for interacting with residents, overseeing schools and parks in their respective areas and knowing the specific concerns and issues in their beat.

LAAG requested all the contact info for the PAVE deputies to post here as it was not posted anywhere on the LASD site. The "A" in PAVE means accountability. Without ways to contact these deputies we cant hold them accountable.

4. How about a Sheriff blotter like LAAG asked for months ago? (see related story)

Baca quotes from Jack Kennedy below and in a way seems to try to compare himself to the late President. To borrow a phrase from Senator Bentsen in the 1988 debates with Dan Quale: "Sheriff, you're no Jack Kennedy"..(for details read here)

Criticism is the cost of police innovation The arrest-contest incident in Lakewood is not an indication of poor county policing, says Sheriff Lee Baca. By Lee Baca

October 9, 2007

The recent criticism of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reminded me of a statement President Kennedy made in 1961 regarding his reform-minded approach to Latin America, which at the time was causing consternation among many of the old guard in government: "My experience in government is that when things are noncontroversial, beautifully coordinated and all the rest, it may be that there is not much going on," he said. "We are attempting to do something about Latin America, and there is bound to be ferment. If the ferment produces a useful result, it will be worthwhile." Soon after this statement, Kennedy and his administration averted a global nuclear disaster that has come to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Obviously the recent criticism of the Sheriff's Department is not by any stretch of the imagination on the level of U.S. foreign policy in the early 1960s.
However, Kennedy was trying something new, and it was causing controversy.

Since I have been elected sheriff, I also have been trying something new, and it too has caused some controversy. I want every department member, regardless of their standing, to be leaders in this department so that they can act independently of the bureaucracy to do their jobs right.

In fact, when I address a room full of deputies or professional staff, I always start by saying: "I see a room full of leaders." Furthermore, I always ask department members: "What new thing am I willing to do to make a difference?"

Most recently, a leader in the Lakewood station undertook an informal arrest competition among deputies. This idea was to boost morale and increase productivity among the deputies. It was a well-intentioned, ill-conceived idea.

When you try new things, there will be mistakes.
We will not hide from them. We will be accountable. When I learned of the contests, I stopped them. I also was criticized for not being aware of the informal contests sooner. The station's captain knew about the contest and allowed it to go forward. But the key to growing as a leader is making decisions without constant interference from your superiors.

Again, I applaud the initiative but not the result. Law enforcement is not about contests, it is about quality.

I am called by some a "public safety reformer." Perhaps there's some truth to that, but that does not mean I ignore best practices of law enforcement. My deputies know what is right and what is wrong. They will stay well within the legal and moral boundaries
while applying common sense and fairness in all they do.

So how are we doing with this leadership approach to public safety?

Crime is down in Los Angeles County, with homicides and rapes down by 13.02% and 13.36%, respectively. Homicides in Compton alone are down by nearly 50% over the spike in 2005.

We are on the verge of opening a gang emergency operations center that for the first time in the history of this great county will bring together all resources under one roof to combat the scourge of gangs. We have recently opened a new state-of-the-art regional crime lab.

Our Office of Independent Review is considered the model of law enforcement oversight nationwide, with one of our OIR attorneys recently selected to run the oversight of Chicago's police department.

Our Los Angeles Sheriff's Department University has graduated scores of sheriff's department personnel with bachelor's and master's degrees, with the full support of this department. I have long held that the better the education, the better the department.

And finally, by the end of this year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will have recruited more than 2,600 new deputy sheriffs.

When you try new ideas, pave new roads, pioneer new innovations, there is "bound to be ferment. If the ferment produces a useful result, it will be worthwhile."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is producing a public safety result much more than worthwhile. It is one that is essential to keep us safe and secure well into the 21st Century.

Lee Baca is sheriff of Los Angeles County.

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA
A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™

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