LASO Badge

Alene Tchekmedyian and Cindy Chang
April 27, 2016

A top Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official forwarded emails with jokes containing derogatory stereotypes of Muslims, blacks, Latinos, women and others from his work account during his previous job with the Burbank Police Department, according to city records.

Tom Angel, who is Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s chief of staff, sent the emails in 2012 and 2013 when he was the No. 2 police official in Burbank, hired to reform a department reeling from allegations of police brutality as well as racism and sexual harassment within its ranks.

“I took my Biology exam last Friday,” said one of the forwarded emails, which were obtained under the state’s public records law. “I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently ‘Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers.”

Another email ridiculed concerns about the racial profiling of Muslims as terrorism suspects. A third included the subject line, “How dumb is dumb?” and listed 20 reasons “Muslim Terrorists are so quick to commit suicide,” including “Towels for hats,” “Constant wailing from some idiot in a tower” and “You can’t wash off the smell of donkey.”

In an interview, Angel told The Times he did not mean to embarrass or demean anyone and said it was unfortunate that his work emails could be obtained by the public under the state’s records laws. Asked about the “Biology exam” email, which made light of high incarceration rates in some minority communities, he described himself as Mexican.

“Anybody in the workplace unfortunately forwards emails from time to time that they probably shouldn’t have forwarded,” Angel said. “I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes.”

A longtime sheriff’s official, Angel arrived in Burbank in 2010 as part of a new leadership team consisting mostly of Los Angeles Police Department veterans. He rejoined the Sheriff’s Department last year to work for McDonnell, who was elected in December 2014 on a promise to clean up the agency amid an FBI investigation into corruption and misconduct in the county jails.

To read expanded article, click here.