Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced Tuesday that he will retire, stepping aside as he was buffeted by allegations of misconduct on his watch just six months before he would have faced reelection.
“I don’t see myself as the future,” Baca, 71, said at a news conference, the local CBS affiliate reports. “I see myself as part of the past.” He told reporters that he would end his 16-year tenure at the end of the month.
The decision comes amid several scandals within the department, including the federal indictment of 18 current and former deputies for allegedly abusing inmates, falsifying documents and attempting to obstruct an FBI investigation. Baca himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
A 48-year department veteran, Baca was first elected in 1998, replacing incumbent Sherman Block, wh0 died just days before the election. He won his fourth consecutive term in 2010.
Baca told reporters that although he denied plans to retire just a month ago, he made up his mind to leave within the last three days, citing concern about the future of the department. “It’s not something I really had in mind,” he said. “It’s not about me, its important to think of the department.”