Paul Tanaka resigns from Sheriff’s Department

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The second-in-command at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced today that he’s resigning.

Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka
Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka

Just hours after he was re-elected mayor of Gardena, Paul Tanaka announced he’d step down as Undersheriff at the Department, where he’s worked since 1982.

Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said his reason is simple. “Well, he told me that he has a three and a half year old son, and that he wants to spend more time with his son and his wife,” Whitmore said.

Whitmore said Tanaka’s decision has nothing to do with the federal probe into allegations of deputies beating and harassing inmates in the county’s jail system. He also said that Sheriff Lee Baca did not ask Tanaka to leave, and that the inmate abuse investigation would not be affected.

But, Whitmore said, the position may not be filled after Tanaka leaves. “It’s possible that the sheriff does not replace him, because he’s changing the structure of the department, where people are directly responding to him now,” Whitmore said.

That was one of the recommendations proposed by a blue-ribbon commission last year. Its report singled out Tanaka, accusing him of discouraging investigations into deputy-misconduct allegations and encouraging deputies to be aggressive against inmates.

His resignation is effective August 1st.