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Paul Tanaka, who was ousted by Baca, says the department needs a new direction. His role in jail scandals is controversial.

By Seema Mehta
August 15, 2013, 7:57 p.m.

Paul Tanaka, a former Los Angeles County undersheriff who was ousted by Sheriff Lee Baca earlier this year, announced Thursday that he’s challenging his former boss.

“I have decided to declare my candidacy for sheriff of Los Angeles County because the community members are long overdue for a new direction from their sheriff,” Tanaka said, flanked by current and former department supervisors at a news conference on a hilltop helicopter pad in Griffith Park.

“The lack of accountability at the Sheriff’s Department has been well-chronicled, is an embarrassment to the thousands of hard-working employees, and necessitates a change in command, a new vision,” Tanaka said.

Baca, who has been sheriff for 15 years, is considered vulnerable as he seeks a fifth term because of a series of scandals in recent years. The FBI has been investigating abuse and other deputy misconduct in his jails. In a separate investigation, federal authorities found that Baca’s deputies in the Antelope Valley harassed and intimidated blacks and Latinos. In addition to the federal investigations, Baca had been under fire for questionable hires, giving special treatment to friends and supporters, and the existence of aggressive, unsanctioned deputy cliques within the agency’s ranks.

Tanaka, 54, never mentioned Baca by name, but criticized him for failing to be involved in the day-to-day running of the department, for not being accountable and for having poor relations with some elected officials.

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