Paul K. Tanaka, who joined the Department in 1982, was appointed as Undersheriff in June 2011 by Sheriff Lee Baca. As second-in-command, Undersheriff Tanaka will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Department.
Undersheriff Tanaka began his law enforcement career with the El Segundo Police Department in June 1980. Two years later, Mr. Tanaka transferred to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, where he held various line assignments as a deputy in patrol, custody, and recruitment. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1987, and went to work at Lynwood Station. In 1991, Mr. Tanaka was promoted to Lieutenant and took on assignments at the Mira Loma Facility, Inmate Reception Center, Lennox Station, Region II COPS Program, West Hollywood Station, and the Administrative Services Division. In August 1999, he was promoted to Captain, assuming command of the Community Oriented Policing Services Bureau, which also included the Asian Crime Task Force, Regional Community Policing Institute, and the VIDA (youth intervention) Program.
Mr. Tanaka was promoted to Commander in February 2001, and assigned to the Office of the Undersheriff as one of the Commanders of the Department. In August 2002, Mr. Tanaka was promoted to Chief and given responsibility for directing the Administrative Services Division, where he managed the Department’s budget and personnel services.
Mr. Tanaka was appointed to Assistant Sheriff in January of 2005 where he first oversaw the leadership of the Department’s Custody, Corrections, Court and Technical Services Divisions. Later, in 2007, he directly commanded and was responsible for the activities of the Department’s three Field Operations Patrol Regions, Detective Division, and the Homeland Security Division. In addition, with a budget of approximately $2.5 billion and more than 18,000 employees, Mr. Tanaka oversaw the operation of the Administrative Services Division, which included the Department’s financial matters, human resources and facilities construction and maintenance.
Undersheriff Tanaka served six years as City Councilman in Gardena beginning in 1999. He was elected to a four year Mayor’s post in March 2005 and reelected in 2009. Mr. Tanaka holds an accounting degree from Loyola Marymount University and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of California.
Undersheriff Tanaka resides in the city of Gardena with his wife, Valerie, and their two children.
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