The Honeymoon Is Over for LA Sheriff

In 2014, Los Angeles County voters elected former Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell the county’s new Sheriff amid a plethora of scandals and criminal acts having been committed throughout the Sherif’s Department, from the least senior deputy levels to the very top echelon. Over the past two years, conviction after conviction has occurred, catching in a wide net even the top people in the department, including former long-time

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elected Sheriff Lee Baca, clearly the most dishonest person ever to hold the office in the long history of Los Angeles County, and his top deputy, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, each of whom will begin serving prison sentences sometime this year.

McDonnell was elected as a reformer and to being about change, bringing legality, and decency to the
Department and until now it has seemed, that he has been doing a fine job. But, that has now changed, and clearly by McDonnell’s refusal to take decisive action on an important matter, the honeymoon is over, and his judgement and actions must be called into question.

When he took office, McDonnell chose as his Chief of Staff former Burbank Police Department second in command Tom Angel, and it is now McDonnell on the hot seat as much as Angel with the release of documentation demonstrating a long series of vile, racist, derogatory emails from his City of Burbank work account and primarily to other city employees, ridiculing and mocking various groups including African-Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, women, and the overweight, among others. Perhaps equally disgusting as the emails themselves was Angel’s “defense” to the allegations describing this conduct. He did not deny sending them, he did not clearly say that he should not have sent them, but rather his response was to say that he never intended the public to see


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them. Really, just like a criminal and his crew robs a 7-11, its all ok as long as nobody knows about it? Wow.

Equally chilling to the response from Angel, is that of Sheriff McDonnell, especially in light of both the recent deplorable history of his department, and in light of the responses engendered by similar events in other parts of the country occurring during the past year. In
San Francisco, after similarly racist and homophobic and otherwise objectionable texts between police officers were uncovered, a call for the termination of the responsible officers was the immediate response of both the police chief and of the mayor.

When two police supervisions were found to have sent out similar emails in the city of Ferguson, MO, local and federal investigations led to their terminations.

Instead of swift action, or any action at all, this was McDonnell’s response:

“Everybody’s got their own take on humor. This was divisive and nonproductive. It’s a shame the whole thing happened at all”, and saying further that he had no plans to either fire or otherwise discipline Angel, who as an at-will employee can be fired without the need to process a termination through civil service protective procedures.

Some of the emails include the following

“I took my Biology exam last Friday. I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently ‘Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers.”

Another contained 20 reasons why Muslims “are so quick to commit suicide.” These included wearing “towels for hats,” “more than one mother in law” and “your wife smells worse than your donkey.”

“As I went into my bank, I walked past a black kid sitting at a bus stop. When I came out he looked at me and said “Any change, sir?”. I said “Nope, you’re still black.”

In the past, I’ve criticized Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck for his total lack of effective discipline when it comes to his buddies and their obscene and divisive conduct. The same seems to be playing out here in the LA County Sheriff’s Dept., that so many of us thought was finally on the right track after somehow surviving the scandalous regime of convicted felon Lee Baca.

About theHoundDawg

For many years as a lawyer, I saw much of the good and bad of society, and did what I could to right many wrongs. The lack of understanding of what is good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, as evidenced by such events as the election of King W as president, (who as such far surpassed the evil of richard nixon but not quite that of ronald reagan) lead me in a new direction, to spend my time trying to understand what is happening to our society, to try as best I can to spread my insights to others, and along the way to maybe even eke out a living through the internet.
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