Eighteen current and former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department officers have been charged with abuse and misconduct inside the county jails, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Monday. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca called it a “sad day” for the department, but he insisted it is not part of a larger, institutional problem. “Please know that I respect the criminal justice system and no one is above the law,” he said at a press conference. Baca, the sheriff since 1998, is facing one of his toughest re-election campaigns yet next year. But U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said the incidents “did not take place in a vacuum,” and that the officers “demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized.” The sheriff’s department has been dogged with abuse allegations since the 1970s.
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