The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday appointed Orange County undersheriff John Scott to fill in for Sheriff Lee Baca, who will serve his final day in office on Friday.
According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department website, Scott has no intention to run for Baca’s seat, and he is expected to return to his Orange County post when a new sheriff is elected in either June or November.
“It’s a fine appointment,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “The board of supervisors made a wise choice.”
He said Scott worked for L.A. County for 36 years before retiring in 2005. Scott had worked his way up to chief of custody before opting to work in Orange County, Whitmore said.
Fittingly enough, Scott worked under Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens, who was once Baca’s chief of staff, Whitmore said. He said Scott’s experience with both leaders will be “invaluable to keep moving forward with the reforms” that Baca put in place.
“So it’s a good choice,” he said. Whitmore also offered kind words for Baca, who is retiring. “I certainly want to thank him — along with the rest of the county — for his public service, which has been exemplary.”
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, said Scott has “all the assets.”
“What we’re looking for is someone who’s not going to be a caretaker for the next ten months — just marking time,” he said in a statement. Yaroslavsky added that he would like to see the reform process begin during Scott’s tenure.
Supervisor Mike Antonovich, 5th District, said Scott will be a good fit.
“With considerable experience in law enforcement and strong leadership qualities, John Scott will be a superb interim sheriff to lead the department until voters elect a new sheriff,” he said in a statement.
West Hollywood Councilman Jeffrey Prang, who had worked for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department as a senior advisor for public affairs for nine years, said Scott was a “very good appointment.” He said he knew Scott when he worked for the department.
“He had a great reputation as being a very competent manager,” Prang said. “He was very well liked and respected by his peers. I think he comes extremely well prepared and is probably as good of a choice as can be in this situation. …I’m personally very heartened by the appointment. I think everyone in West Hollywood can feel good about it, as well as everybody in the county.”
He said Scott is hardworking, smart and has great experience. Furthermore, his experience in Orange County gives him an outside perspective, yet he still knows the L.A. department well, having worked there for more than three decades, Prang said.
“He knows how the system works,” he added.
Baca announced his retirement on Jan. 7. According to a press release, the board of supervisors was mandated by county charter to appoint an interim sheriff to serve the rest of Baca’s term, which ends in December.
Whitmore said the Primary Election for a new sheriff will be held in June, and a runoff will be held in November if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.
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