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Sheriff Lee Baca’s comments come a day after L.A. County leaders demanded he investigate his hiring practices in response to an L.A. Times investigation last weekend. The Times found that the Sheriff’s Department hired dozens of officers from a disbanded county police force in 2010 even though investigators had found significant misconduct in their backgrounds. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

By Bob Pool and Robert Faturechi
December 4, 2013, 2:39 p.m.

Under fire for hiring dozens of officers with histories of serious misconduct, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca acknowledged Wednesday shortcomings in the way his agency handled the process.

“It could have been done better,” Baca told reporters.

Baca’s comments come a day after county leaders demanded he investigate his hiring practices in response to an L.A. Times investigation last weekend that found that his agency hired dozens of officers from a disbanded county police force in 2010 even though investigators had found significant misconduct in their backgrounds.

Special report: Behind the badge

Internal sheriff’s files showed that jobs were given to officers who falsified reports, accidentally fired their weapons, had sex at work, committed theft and solicited prostitutes. Twenty-nine of the roughly 280 hires had previously been fired or pressured to resign from other law enforcement agencies.

Baca, who had previously declined to be interviewed on the subject, said “the undersheriff” was responsible for the hires — a reference to his former second-in-command, Larry Waldie, who led the expansion.

“We should not have relied on just one person” to make the hiring decisions, Baca said.

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