L.A. Sheriff Dept. Chief of Staff Resigns Over Racist Emails

By Kenrya Rankin May 02, 2016

The Los Angeles Sheriff Department official who basically said, “Sorry, not sorry,” in response to the revelation of his racist emails has resigned.

After The Los Angeles Times reported that Angel sent stereotype-ridden messages from his work email during his tenure with the Burbank Police Department, Angel—who was chief of staff to Sheriff Jim McDonnell—said, “I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes.” And his boss supported him, telling the Times, “Everybody’s got their own take on humor.”

After days of public criticism, it seems that neither of them is laughing now. On Sunday (May 1), McDonnell posted on the department’s Facebook page, saying that Angel resigned. His message appears in full below.

#LASD Message from the Sheriff of Los Angeles County

Very recently I learned that three to four years ago LASD Chief Tom Angel shared inappropriate and unprofessional e-mails with others, during his service as Burbank Police Department Assistant Chief. This incident is one that I find deeply troubling. 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.

Despite the Sheriff’s Department’s many recent efforts to fortify public trust and enhance internal and external accountability and transparency, this 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.

In the immediate future, we will be meeting with constituent groups throughout the county to share thoughts and ideas about improving our understanding of the varied cultures and orientations and deepening our appreciation of the many ethnicities and religions that are part of the vibrant fabric of the population we serve. We will also examine our current training framework and evaluate our curriculum in these areas to maximize their effectiveness.

In addition, we will assess existing policies and systems for ensuring accountability and enhancing cultural and ethnic sensitivity and professionalism among our personnel. For example, we will implement a new system of random audits of the e-mail accounts of department personnel.

I intend to continue to build on the excellent foundation of community partnerships which the Sheriff’s Department has been creating and strengthening for many years. The law enforcement profession must and can demand the highest standards of professionalism, fairness and constitutional policing—individually and collectively—from its personnel. 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.

Jim McDonnell, Sheriff

Civil rights advocates are encouraged by the news, but feel McDonnell should have acted sooner.

“When you have someone high up in the administration sending off inappropriate emails, and the sheriff is slow to respond, that communicates to the line staff that it’s a behavior that’s OK, when it’s not,” Esther Lim, director of the Jails Project at the ACLU of Southern California, told the Times.

“Hopefully now, if incidents like these happen again, the precedent is to step down or be dismissed,” said Haroon Manjlai of the greater L.A. chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “It promotes zero tolerance when it comes to any kind of xenophobic or insensitive behavior to any community.”