Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who is suffering his first major embarrassment as sheriff over the departure of his chief of staff because of racially insensitive emails, says he will turn the episode into a teaching moment for his department. The department announced Sunday that Tom Angel has resigned over the emails, which were obtained from the city of Burbank by the Los Angeles Times under California’s open records act and reported on last week. No details about the search for a replacement were immediately announced.The emails, sent in 2012 and 2013 when Angel was the No. 2 police official in Burbank, contained derogatory stereotypes of blacks, Latinos, Muslims and others. Some contained jokes that Angel had received and then forwarded. McDonnell initially said he had no plans to discipline Angel but appears to have changed his mind about the viability of his chief of staff amid calls for Angel’s departure from black and Muslim community activists.This incident is one that I find deeply troubling,’ McDonnell said in a statement Sunday. “Chief Angel has offered his resignation, and I have accepted it. I thank him for his many years of service, and wish him and his family well.” McDonnell said that despite the department’s recent effort to strengthen public trust and improve internal and external accountability and transparency, the incident “reminds us that we and other law enforcement agencies still have work to do. I intend to turn this situation into a learning opportunity for all LASD personnel.” He said the department will also be assessing existing policies and systems to ensure “accountability and enhancing cultural and ethnic sensitivity and professionalism among our personnel.” This will include a new system of random audits of the e-mail accounts of department personnel. “The law enforcement profession must and can demand the highest standards of professionalism, fairness and constitutional policing individually and collectively from its personnel,” McConnell said. “We are only as effective as the relationships, credibility and trust we have with our community; this is a fundamental point that I and LASD personnel take very seriously.” Hilda Solis, the chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of
Supervisors, praised the sheriff’s department. Sheriff McDonnell has done an admirable job of steering the department in the right directions with necessary reforms,” Solis said in a statement. We must move forward and strive for a law enforcement work culture that values diversity and promotes tolerance.”
Angel has told The Times that he did not mean to embarrass or demean anyone. He said it was unfortunate that his work emails could be obtained by the public under the state’s records laws.
I took my Biology exam last Friday,” said one of the emails. “I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently `Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers.”In Burbank, Angel had been brought in to reform an agency reeling from misconduct in its ranks, including allegations of brutality, racism and sexual harassment.