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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Tanaka’

LA Justice Report Scores Major Victory for Good Government in LA County*

Happy to see today that the LA Justice Report, of which yours truly is the lead reporter, and its series “Dangerous Jails” is starting to have a big impact on LA County policy. LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina told Witness LA (where the LA Justice Report is published) and the LA Times that her recent initiative to stop county managers from soliciting campaign donations from their employees was a direct result of The LA Justice Report’s investigation into LA Sheriff’s Department number 2 Paul Tanaka and donations made to his Gardena mayoral campaign.

“It was a cause for great concern,” Molina’s spokeswoman Roxane Marquez told WitnessLA. “Sup. Molina is well aware that she can’t stop people from simply giving contributions – that would be a violation of federal free speech rights. But she’s concerned about higher-ups soliciting campaign donations from employees whom they manage. That’s exactly what prompted her motion.”

And from the LA Times:

In an interview, Molina said she has been concerned about the practice for years, most recently after allegations were made in the news blog WitnessLA that donations to Tanaka were affecting promotions.

Reporting for the fifth installment of the “Dangerous Jails” series is in full swing. The piece should be out sometime in the next few weeks.

*Update: We were just told by a Sheriff’s Department source that WitnessLA has been officially blocked on the LASD computer network. A little too late for damage control, as there aren’t too many LASD personnel who aren’t familiar with the site at this point.

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LA Justice Report Launches Part 4 of Its Investigation Into the LA Sheriff’s Department

Following on the heels of the ACLU’s most recent lawsuit against Lee Baca and the LA Sheriff’s Department for the dangerous state of the county jail system, the LA Justice Report has launched the fourth part of its investigative series into the deep internal problems within the department. Once again, yours truly was the lead reporter on the project. This piece focuses once again on Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and his recent seizing of control over the LASD’s two internal investigative units—Internal Affairs and the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau—a move that many close to the department view as a hostile takeover, given Tanaka’s notorious dislike of IA.

A snippet:

The LA Justice Report spoke with three former IA investigators who each made clear that “working in the grey” policing, and aggressive internal affairs monitoring of departmental wrongdoing are irreconcilable. Robust internal affairs and deputies told by their undersheriff to push the boundaries of departmental policy cannot coexist. Something has to give. And by all accounts, when it comes to Paul Tanaka, it will be IA, not the deputies under his wing who are forced to cede ground.

This piece was supposed to be a quick-hitter that got longer and longer as more information came in from LASD sources. Part 5, set to run next month, will be a monster.

LA Justice Report Launches Third Investigation Into LA Sheriff’s Department

Part Three of the LA Justice Report’s investigation into the dangerous state of LA County’s jails is up and running. Yours truly was the author of the piece, which was published on Witness LA in collaboration with This story delves into the shady political underbelly of the Sheriff’s Department, and the role those politics have played in the wanton abuse of inmates in LA County jail by deputies over the past decade. At the heart of the problem: Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.

From the piece:

No matter the departmental rank, all our sources tell us the same thing: Long before Tanaka officially inherited the No. 2 spot there were already two camps inside the Sheriff’s Department—those “in the car” with Tanaka and those on the outside. Those outside the car can be “rolled up”—meaning transferred to department backwaters—if they cross Tanaka, regardless of their performance on the job. Those in the car with Tanaka are promoted quickly and insulated from performance failures. For years, Lee Baca has, with few exceptions, granted Tanaka the power to pick and choose what supervisors get promoted and where they’re placed—even in units over which Tanaka has no formal organizational control.

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LA Justice Report Launches Second Part of Its Investigation into LA County’s Jails

The LA Justice Report, a journalistic collaboration between Witness LA and, of which yours truly is the lead reporter, has published the second part in a series of articles investigating the troubled state of LA County’s jail system. In our latest piece we speak with a former commander in charge of Men’s Central Jail, Bob Olmsted, who repeatedly tried to warn Sheriff Lee Baca, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, and others in the LASD command staff that deputy on inmate abuse in the jails was pervasive and out of control. Particularly in Men’s Central Jail, under the captainship of Dan Cruz–who, so far, is the highest ranking member of the department to be punished for his role in jail violence.

From the piece:

[D]espite the undeniable problems inside Men’s Central Jail under Cruz’s watch, sources with intimate knowledge of the department’s inner workings, say blame for the violence in the jails lies much higher up the food chain than Dan Cruz.

One of those knowledgeable sources is retired LASD Commander Bob Olmsted, who was Cruz’s commanding officer inside CJ (as Men’s Central Jail is known). In a series of interviews with the LA Justice Report, Olmsted acknowledged that while Dan Cruz is culpable for the recent violence at CJ, “the real problem is how departmental leadership allowed this jail situation to occur.

“The problems inside the jail were ignored by the Sheriff’s command staff. I went to [Custody Chief Dennis] Burns, [Undersheriff Paul] Tanaka. And I went to Lee Baca. I told them I needed help trying to corral this situation and I was ignored.”

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LA Times Tells Lee Baca to Man Up on Jail Violence

Spot-on editorial in the LA Times taking on LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and his supposed anger over the botched federal investigation into the LA County Jail system. Baca caught the feds smuggling a cellphone to an inmate informant and has been all over the news complaining about it. The Times rightly puts him in his place.

If Baca is truly interested in demonstrating the integrity of his department and protecting the reputation of his deputies, he should welcome the FBI probe, not obstruct it.

Here’s the deal that isn’t being widely reported. Lee Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka absolutely knew that Men’s Central Jail was a violent mess–and that street gang-like deputy cliques played an integral role in that violence. They knew this because their on-the-ground captain of the jail John Clark told them so in 2006, as he attempted to fix the problem. He was never allowed to. Tanaka summarily removed Clark from his position before the reforms were even instituted. In the years to come, jail violence only got worse.

Baca and Tanaka did not fix this problem when they had the chance. And they need to be held responsible now.