It is also worth looking at who else contributes to the sheriff’s re-election campaign and what it is that they expect to get from him in return. Certainly much has already been made in the press of contributions from Barron Hilton – which might or might not have had anything to do with preferential treatment proffered to his granddaughter. What would have happened to an appointed police chief who took money from a billionaire and then commuted a family member’s sentence? And then there are vendors, such as tow-truck drivers and service providers, who regularly donate to the sheriff. What do they get in return for their contributions? Sheriff Lee Baca has the largest jurisdiction of any sheriff in the country. He should be a role model as well. He needs to stop thinking like a politician and make public safety in Los Angeles County his first and only priority. Steve Remige is president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! THE sheriff of Los Angeles County wears two hats: He is a politician who needs to do all the things that politicians must do to get elected, such as make promises, raise money and live in the public eye. And he is a law enforcement professional who, in his day-to-day job, should think about public safety first, be beholden to no special-interest groups and fairly lead his 13,000 employees – even those who do not support his political aspirations. How well is Sheriff Leroy “Lee” Baca doing at separating his job from his political office? Not so well. The Daily News has reported that 73 percent of sheriff’s employees with ranks of captain or higher who were promoted in the past three years made campaign contributions to Baca. Many did so shortly before or after their promotions. The sheriff’s spokesman ham-fistedly explains that the good news is that the other one-quarter of those recently promoted to senior management haven’t made any personal payments to the boss. At least not yet. And what happens to the deputies who don’t support the sheriff with cash or endorsements? In 2005, the deputies’ union, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, declined to endorse Baca for re-election. Since then, he has taken every opportunity to get back at the men and women who serve him. This charge is borne out by the numbers. Baca’s increasingly draconian management has resulted in an 833 percent rise in unfair labor-practice charges from 2005, the year of his last election, to 2006. The sheriff shut down deputies’ access to ALADS’ Web site and e-mail addresses, citing “unfair criticism from the union’s newsletter,” and cut off deputies’ access to such “subversive” material as picnic announcements and Blue Cross referral links. This isn’t just a petty issue. Not listening to the deputies because they haven’t paid the price of admission is a threat to public safety. Baca does not have open lines of communication to understand how policy translates to tactics, or what deputies on the ground need in order to do their jobs. Instead, he listens to the circle of men and women who are giving back part of their salaries to keep him in power.