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Gardena Mayor Tanaka ends ‘checkered career’ with LA County Sheriff’s

Tanaka out at LASD.

Tanaka out at LASD.

By Brian Hews

Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka announced his retirement on Wednesday after more than three decades of service and a resume that was filled with both accomplishments and highly controversial items.

Tanaka will officially call it quits on August 1, 2013, and his retirement was announced in a formal statement from the top brass at the massive law enforcement agency.

A career law enforcement officer, Tanaka initially joined the El Segundo police department in 1980 and transferred to the LA County Sheriff’s Department two years later when he rose through the ranks earning his stripes in 1987, and making Lieutenant in 1991.

Tanaka then rose from Lieutenant to Captain in 1999, Commander in 2001 and Chief in 2002. From January 7, 2005 to June 2011, he was the Assistant Sheriff and was also the first Japanese American in that position.

In a statement to the media, Tanaka was praised for developing a “Department of Justice award winning High-Impact Community-Based Policing Program” that according to officials “reduced crime by implementing public trust, problem-solving strategies.”

Tanaka is also credited for creating the Asian Crimes Task Force that apprehended criminals preying on the Asian community.

As a Chief, Assistant Sheriff, and Undersheriff, Tanaka, a Certified Public Accountant, managed the Department’s $2.5 Billion budget for the past nine years.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a blue-ribbon commission issued a searing critique of current Sheriff Lee Baca, Tanaka and others, accusing them of “fostering a culture in which deputies were permitted to beat and humiliate inmates, cover up He has been criticized for his affiliation with the Vikings, a secret police organization brought to light amidst police misconduct litigation in 1990.”

According to published internet reports, Tanaka “still has a tattoo related to the Vikings group, which a federal judge described as neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang.”

Tanaka is also a member of the Gardena City Council, where he currently serves as its elected Mayor. Prior to his election to the position of Mayor, in March 2005, he had already served the City of Gardena for six years as a City Councilmember.