Years ago, the Rampart Independent Review Panel released their report concerning the operations, policies and procedures of the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the Rampart scandal. After reviewing the report, I described to Los Angeles Times Reporter Beth Shuster that independent auditing of the Sheriff's Department's administrative and criminal investigations should be conducted by civil rights trained attorneys. With contemplative reporting from the Times, and support from the Board of Supervisors, the Office of Independent Review was formed. Two prominent civil rights attorneys, Kathy Feng and Stuart Kwoh, assisted in developing protocols to ensure comprehensive oversight of Sheriff's Department investigations, and I believe this process should continue.

Now, in the wake of allegations of misconduct within the Sheriff's Department, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas has proposed a Sheriff's Department Oversight Commission. This concept is consistent with my view on strengthening transparency and accountability, and would serve to further develop law enforcement skills regarding Constitutional policing, procedural justice, civil rights, and human rights as a whole. A perfect example of developing these skills in law enforcement is the overwhelming success of Education Based Incarceration (EBI). Several years ago when I initially created the program, I received criticism for being a "social worker" to inmates. Yet, the success of EBI has been proven, with Los Angeles County leading the State in crime reductions, and tens of thousands of inmates receiving formal education, anger management, substance abuse treatment, work experience, and other life skills to put them in a better place to stop the cycle of crime when they leave the Los Angeles County jail system.

Effecting positive change in a challenged criminal justice system starts with a willingness to be completely open and transparent about everything, even if the truthfulness and transparency results in identifying areas for improvement or exposing misconduct. Since I am an elected official, I am not afraid of criticism because the public knows their Sheriff will always tell the truth, follow Our Core Values, and continue to work to strengthen public safety and public trust in our Sheriff's Department.

LEROY D. BACA, SHERIFF