The National Sheriffs’ Association has chosen Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca as the 2013 Sheriff of the Year, the National Sheriffs’ Association announced.
"The National Sheriffs’ Association established the Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the Year award in 1995 to recognize an outstanding sheriff of the year for contributions made to improve the Office of Sheriff on the local, state, and national levels, and for involvement in the community above and beyond the responsibilities required," according to the NSA.
The National Sheriffs’ Association, which represents more than 3,080 elected sheriffs across the United States and has a total membership of approximately 20,000, shared some of the reasoning behind their decision:
Sheriff Baca leads the largest Sheriff’s Station in the country with a $2.5 billion budget.
Sheriff Baca developed Education-Based Incarceration (EBI) to address the high rate of offender recidivism in Los Angeles County.
Sheriff Baca is the Coordinator of Mutual Aid Emergency Services for California Region 1, which includes the County of Orange and serves 13 million people.
Read more about Baca in the NSA release here.
But the sheriff has also has faced significant criticism and an FBI investigation in light of allegations of prison inmate abuse.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit that accuses Baca and other department officials of condoning violence against inmates and another suit alleging that inmates accused of attacking guards are unable to get evidence that could possibly exonerate them, according to the Associated Press.
The allegations also lead to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Michael Antonovich, who represents Monrovia and dozens of other communities in the fifth supervisorial district, spearheading efforts in 2011 to establish a citizens’ commission on jail violence, Patch reported.
Baca announced in 2011 that he would appoint two task forces to address concerns about county jails—one to look into abuse complaints and one to think of how to improve the jail system overall.
The Sheriff, who said he is to blame for the deputy’s misbehavior, also created a database to track inmate complaints and mulled over closing Men’s Central Jail, where some of the abuse was reported, according to AP.
What do you think of Sheriff Baca receiving the Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the Year award? Does he deserve it or not? Share your thoughts in the comments section.