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BACA TELLS LOS HILLS DEPUTIES HE WANTS TO UNIFY DEPARTMENT.

Byline: Sylvia L. Oliande Daily News Staff Writer

Los Angeles County Sheriff-elect Lee Baca painted a less-than-rosy picture of the state of the department during a visit Tuesday to the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff's station.

But he did assure station personnel that their concerns will be heard and that he would do everything he can to repair the department's reputation and unify the force.

In the latest in a series of station tours throughout the county, Baca heard the results of a survey about the needs and the concerns of everyone working there. And while many of the issues were specific to the Lost Hills station, Baca said several others reflected the concerns of the department as a whole - a shortage of personnel and equipment and dissatisfaction with some of the agency's policies.

``We're trying to bring about a sense of unity and all it takes is some straightforward talk about the problems,'' he said in a news conference held after the meetings. ``We have problems in the department, but we have to solve them together. We're never going to solve them apart.''

He also used the meeting to announce his idea of creating a Deputy Leadership Institute, which would train everyone in the department to conduct themselves fairly and responsibly. One of the issues that would be targeted is how to sensitively deal with racism, sexism and homophobia.

``We don't have room in this profession for those kinds of things,'' he said. ``We want the people to admire us for the right reasons.''

For the most part, Baca's visit was well-received.

After a morning-long meeting with station representatives, Baca had a question-and-answer period with deputies, officers and civilian employees.

``I think he had a lot of positive influence here today,'' said Deputy Scott Fuquay, a pilot. ``It certainly is a refreshing change from the way business was done before . . . I've been in the department for 22 years and I've never seen Sheriff (Sherman) Block or any representative come out and try to make such a show of support for the stations.''

The sheriff-elect, who will be sworn in at a ceremony Dec. 7 in Pasadena, said that despite the troubles he had during his campaign for the office, he feels he has a good relationship with the Board of Supervisors.

And in that way, he is confident he will be given a fair hearing about the department's budget when the time comes to ask for an increase, especially for money to hire additional deputies.

``We're just going to have to roll up our sleeves and go fight for those bodies,'' he told the gathered group of about 100.

During the talk, an audience member questioned Baca about his plan to hire a part-time inspector general to take an objective look at the department. The man noted that the move has the potential to further polarize the department depending on what that person finds.

Baca defended his idea as a way of being able to back up his assertions before the Board of Supervisors that the department is underfunded. He said he would take the responsibility if the plan does not work out as he envisions.

``When an inspector general from the outside says these things, I think we'll be in a better position to do our job,'' Baca said. ``We can't fight our fight alone. There are parts of the county that don't think we're doing a good job regarding our jails. I think we're doing a fair job, but I think we can do better.''

The Malibu/Lost Hills station handles the unincorporated area in the westernmost end of the county, as well as the cities of Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Hidden Hills and Malibu.

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Photo

PHOTO Los Angeles County Sheriff-elect Lee Baca speaks to deputies at Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff's station.

David Sprague/Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 25, 1998
Words:641
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