As Sheriff Lee Baca weathers a storm of criticism, his spokesman has defended his department’s handling of the Paris Hilton case.
“At the end of the day, when some of this Jerry Springer-like atmosphere has settled down, people will see that Sheriff Baca … went out of his way to do what was right,” Steve Whitmore said Thursday outside the Lynwood, Calif., jail to which Hilton was transferred the night before.
In response to allegations that Hilton’s family had been allowed to skip the line during jail visiting hours, Whitmore explained that “because Ms. Hilton is administratively segregated, we have to have the visiting area clear, so her visits were done at noon break.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has demanded that Baca give a full report on Tuesday explaining why he reassigned Hilton, 26, to home detention for an undisclosed medical condition last week. (She was quickly ordered back to jail.)
“We want to hear from the sheriff as to his rationale for his decisions,” explained Tony Bell, assistant to county supervisor Michael Antonovich.
Meanwhile, the organizer of a campaign to remove the elected Baca from office filed a “notice of intention” with the county clerk on Thursday. Once the notice is certified, the campaign will have 160 days to collect more than 395,000 signatures – 10 percent of the county’s registered voters – to get Baca fired.
• Reporting by JED DREBEN and JOHNNY DODD