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OPINION | LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Controversy on Sheriff Baca's Trip to Pakistan

March 24, 2004

Re "Enter the World of Lee Baca," March 20: L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and I disagree on whether the department has done enough to cut waste in its operations. The most recent disagreement is his trip to Pakistan to study terrorism. He took his wife, two senior staff members and three officials from other law enforcement agencies. The sheriff indicated that it cost county taxpayers only the funds to pay for the two division chiefs who accompanied him on this junket. The Times stated that the two deputies' trip was paid for from the Sheriff's Department's tight budget, and that some consider Baca a "touchy-feely sheriff" who draws scorn from traditional deputies, who call him "Sheriff Moonbeam."

Baca's trip to Pakistan did nothing to protect me and the other 11 million folks who reside in the county. So why do we need a half-cent increase in our sales tax? Good question, with few answers. If we are ever going to stop the crime in our society we will need to do so with more educators, not more cops.

Robert Feliciano

Downey

I was pleased to read that Baca was traveling to Pakistan to discuss terrorism with the Pakistani leaders and dance with the general population. I have seen Baca firsthand get involved in community groups here in Los Angeles. He does not merely go to the community and shake a few hands, he actually gets down to the day-to-day problems the residents have.

Baca really does care about making Los Angeles a safer area. Los Angeles has many problems, and only placing more people in jail is not going to solve any issue. It will take creative and sometimes controversial methods to make L.A. County a safer place to live and work.

Keep trying, Sheriff Baca, and keep dancing.

Thomas Wall

Rancho Palos Verdes

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