Bob Olmsted (75436)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s election is rapidly approaching and Bob Olmsted says he is more than ready. In a recent interview, the candidate pointed out three main issues he will focus on immediately, if elected to office: auditing police spending, jail overcrowding, and most importantly, fixing the broken hierarchy in the chain of command in the LASD. The latter will not only repair the damage created by some of the current and previous negligent actions, but will also help improve the department’s image in the public eye.

Olmsted is a man with a plan, and believes he has the experience and determination necessary to make significant strides in improving the LASD. At the age of 62, the former sheriff’s commander deemed it necessary to come out of retirement to put an end to the wrongdoing occurring within the department.

“The only reason I’m in this race is because there is something bigger than myself here, and I know I can what it takes to handle it,” Olmsted said.

Auditing the department’s spending is one of the big issues he intends to address as soon as possible.

According to Olmsted, there are programs that are being neglected to which funds should be allocated such as a police academy, which has been forced to shut down every few years due to lack of funds. This, in turn, affects the number of as well as the quality of incoming police recruits.

Los Angeles County has one of the largest policing departments in the nation, yet there is only one official sworn-in recruiting officer to handle all recruits for the LASD. Olmsted believes this could lead to candidates with tarnished records slipping through the cracks and becoming full-fledged officers. Former corrections officer Andre Scott at the state prison in Lancaster is a perfect example. Scott was an alleged affiliate of the Pasadena Denver Lanes Bloods gang (PDL), and in December of 2013 was accused of smuggling drugs (heroin and marijuana) and cell phones into the prison for PDL gang members.

Olmsted believes that revamping the recruiting office and revitalizing the academy can easily help make improvements in the quality of officer being selected to join the department.

“We need different perspectives and thoughts. The department has not been reaching out to the community, and that has been hurting our diversity. We need diversity in this police department without a doubt.”

Jail overcrowding and inmate treatment is also an issue Olmsted is more than willing to tackle. Ending the cliques that have formed within the department and within the jails is something that is necessary to end discrimination and illegal and unethical behavior.

An audit of police spending may also allow for more funds to be allocated to expanding the jails to allow for housing of more inmates.

Olmsted believes the inmate education program needs to stay in place, but needs to be reformatted. Uneducated inmates typically end up returning to jail, but educating them is a step toward attempting cutting down on recidivism.

Originally, former Sheriff Lee Baca (who recently retired from office) brought Olmsted onboard to redevelop the sheriff department’s leadership system. Olmsted saw Baca as a mentor and was more than happy to have the chance to make changes within the organization. However, when he began to see the problems beneath the surface and bring them to the attention of Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, he was ignored.

Olmsted said there was a significant amount of cronyism occurring within the department and he claimed he was not part of the inner circle of “back alley dealings” that were taking place.

Olmsted said his whistleblowing on some of the issues, especially on the deputy cliques inside and outside the jails, were overlooked by both Tanaka and Baca.

Tanaka was quoted saying, “I was not raised to be a whistleblower,” and Olmsted believes that therein lies the problem: officers should be willing to stop the wrongdoing and promote justice in all cases.

Olmsted feels the current leadership in the department “maintains a code of silence” and that favoritism is keeping the LASD from performing the way it should. He also believes that a significant number of officers have been “usurping authority” and others are fearful of Tanaka, causing them not to speak out against things going on within the department.

Finally, ending the “pay to play” system within the LASD is a strategy Olmsted believes can solve many of the problems occurring in the department.

“It’s time to put an end to the cronyism. No more pay-to-play and no more favoritism. You should have to earn your promotion. We have lost the public trust, and I am willing to purge the department of all officers affiliated with this corrupt system. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a new sheriff in town and a new direction.”