The LA Justice Report, a journalistic collaboration between Witness LA and Spot.us, of which yours truly is the lead reporter, has published the second part in a series of articles investigating the troubled state of LA County’s jail system. In our latest piece we speak with a former commander in charge of Men’s Central Jail, Bob Olmsted, who repeatedly tried to warn Sheriff Lee Baca, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, and others in the LASD command staff that deputy on inmate abuse in the jails was pervasive and out of control. Particularly in Men’s Central Jail, under the captainship of Dan Cruz–who, so far, is the highest ranking member of the department to be punished for his role in jail violence.
[D]espite the undeniable problems inside Men’s Central Jail under Cruz’s watch, sources with intimate knowledge of the department’s inner workings, say blame for the violence in the jails lies much higher up the food chain than Dan Cruz.
One of those knowledgeable sources is retired LASD Commander Bob Olmsted, who was Cruz’s commanding officer inside CJ (as Men’s Central Jail is known). In a series of interviews with the LA Justice Report, Olmsted acknowledged that while Dan Cruz is culpable for the recent violence at CJ, “the real problem is how departmental leadership allowed this jail situation to occur.
“The problems inside the jail were ignored by the Sheriff’s command staff. I went to [Custody Chief Dennis] Burns, [Undersheriff Paul] Tanaka. And I went to Lee Baca. I told them I needed help trying to corral this situation and I was ignored.”
A little backstory: we’d been speaking to Olmsted for months for this story, trying to get him to come on the record. The day after he finally agreed, the LA Times contacted him as well. The Times being the biggest show in town, he shared his story with them too. So it goes. That said, not to brag, but our piece is far more extensive in scope. Check it out.
Previously on FishbowlLA: LA Justice Report Publishes First Part in Series on LA County Jails