assistant chief

McDonnell Sworn In As LA County Sheriff

The former Long Beach police chief takes the helm of a department suffering from low morale and struggling to find its way out of a series of corruption and jail abuse scandals.

Jim McDonnell was sworn in Monday as Los Angeles County Sheriff, taking on a department trying to find its way out of a series of corruption and abuse scandals.

For the first time in its 164-year history, the agency will be helmed by someone who has not risen through its own ranks - something many see as an asset for the 32nd sheriff.

"Who are in what positions, how have they been effective, are we doing best practices across the board in the many things that we do," McDonnell said at the swearing-in ceremony, listing some of the steps ahead of him.

"This will be a department with a hallmark of fairness, trust, accountability and transparency."

McDonnell won the position in a victory over former undersheriff Paul Tanaka in the Nov. 4 election, and will oversee the nation’s largest sheriff’s department of 18,300 employees.

The former LAPD assistant chief will begin his term with the task of reforming the agency, which has been plagued with charges of corruption that led to the resignation of former sheriff Lee Baca and more than a dozen indictments of former deputies.

He has promised to restore the luster to the badge he now wears.

"First thing is to find out who is in the right job and who isn’t," he said. "What are the best practices? What do we need to change?"

McDonnell will replaces Interim Sheriff John Scott, who led the department since Baca’s retirement. McDonnell was most recently police chief in Long Beach, where he championed community-based policing and outreach and was clearly popular with the rank-and-file officers.

His predecessor, Baca, said McDonnell will have to hit the ground running.

"He’s going to have a steep learning curve," Baca said Monday. "There is a lot he will need to learn."

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