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Reflections on the Sheriff's Debate

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There's almost never been an election for LA County Sheriff without an incumbent on the ballot, and no sitting sheriff has ever been defeated in an election — not even the late Sherman Block, who was re-elected after he died during his campaigns. That was in 1998, and Lee Baca, who came in second, took over and served until January of this year, when he retired after a series of scandals. A Citizens Commission said he allowed a culture of corruption that encouraged lawlessness, racial discrimination and jailhouse brutality. That led to an unprecedented open race to replace Lee Baca. Out of seven candidates, all but two are "insiders" — active or retired members of the Sheriff's Department. We hear from Jim McDonnell, Bob Olmsted, Paul Tanaka, Todd Rogers, Lou Vince and James Hellmold, who participated in a debate last month. Retired Lieutenant Patrick Gomez, who was not present, often points out that he's the only Latino running for Sheriff. He says there's money missing from the Narcotics Asset Forfeiture Fund, which consists of property confiscated from drug traffickers.