Why did Lee Baca win Sheriff of the Year award?

The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) awarded LA County Sheriff Lee Baca "Sheriff of the Year."

What does it take to win Sheriff of the Year?

1,480 wrongful incarcerations? The LA Times reported that "hundreds of people have been wrongly imprisoned inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department jails in recent years, with some spending weeks behind bars before authorities realized those arrested were mistaken for wanted criminals."

Widespread prison rape? Just Detention International reported that "Two years ago, it came to light that gangs of deputies were brutalizing jail inmates, using sexual assault and excessive force to instill a climate of terror. Sheriff Baca has repeatedly sought to duck responsibility for the crisis. Yet the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence placed the blame squarely on his shoulders, citing a 'failure of leadership.'"

Pervasive abuse of jail inmates? An ACLU report quotes Thomas Parker, a former FBI agent as saying "Of all the jails I have had the occasion to visit, tour, or conduct investigations within, domestically and internationally, I have never experienced any facility exhibiting the volume and repetitive patterns of violence, misfeasance, and malfeasance impacting the Los Angeles County Jail system..."

Why did he win? Your guess is as good as mine!

Coincidentally, Baca is a member of the NSA Board of Directors and serves on its Executive Committee.


  1. Guess it all depends on who’s casting the votes.  And national Sheriffs think rape is nifty.

    1.  I would not be surprised to find out that he thinks prison rape is part of the rehabilitation process.

  2. The history of “Officer of the Year” awards tell us that the law enforcement industry glorifies bad behavior.

  3. Well, the criteria is “a pulse” and “being a sheriff,” so I can see where they’re coming from.

  4. I’ve long believed that we have allowed a separate culture to develop in law enforcement. They no longer think of themselves as citizens but as police, separate from and above society. We serve their needs. If a cop is a criminal, the rest of the system will circle the wagons rather than turn him in. Cops never do wrong, and the one who is most belligerently antagonistic to the public is the cop’s cop, the cop of the year. This is worth watching in that regard:


    I’ve personally had evidence planted on me to, as golfers have it, “improve the lie.” Every interaction I’ve ever had with police in my 53 years has been negative in some significant way.

    That’s why I’ve commented several times on this site that cops are scum. As far as I’m concerned, they are until proven otherwise. But, sadly, it isn’t just cops. You can’t blame one or two people for the failings of the system, and that is the import of the Frontline episode. The entire system is hosed, from stem to stern. If you’re lucky enough to avoid being caught up in it, good for you. If you’re not, good luck to you.

    You’ll need it.

  5. Sheriff Baca, I’m sure you’re a corrupt motherfucker and I’mma let you finish, but I just have to say Joe Arpaio is the MOST CORRUPT SHERIFF OF ALL TIME! 

  6. The question is real, though. Why did he win? What is special about this sheriff among the many sheriffs? Obviously sheriffs have different standards for excellence among themselves than, for example, human rights organizations.

    Maybe he saved their baby. Or more likely, because he deals with the nation’s biggest jail system, and it hasn’t turned into the kind of tent city mad max scenario that you see in new orleans or texas.

    You know, like the New York sheriffs in the nineties that ran prisons with 10-20% rates of tuberculosis? Those guys maybe don’t get the award.

    1.  So… the prison system in the USA is so fucked up that thousands of wrongful incarcerations, systematic rape, rampaging violence and torture is the base line to measure how good a sheriff is doing?


    2. If that’s the case, maybe they just shouldn’t give an award.  Maybe, instead, they should go “well, we were going to give this to the sheriff who ran the most constitutionally sound jail where human rights were respected but we couldn’t find any so let’s all pack it up and try to be better next year.”  Just because others are horribly evil doesn’t excuse merely evil.

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