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(LOS ANGELES) — The sheriff in Los Angeles County made a surprise announcement Tuesday that he is retiring.

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who has led the department since 1998, leaves amid controversy. In recent weeks the sheriff’s department has been dealing with a scandal involving 18 deputies indicted, accused of abuse and misconduct within county jails.

Asked if he was retiring so abruptly because he feared he would be indicted, Baca didn’t answer directly.

“You don’t become a deputy sheriff if you’re afraid,” he said. “I’m not afraid of reality. I’m only afraid of people who don’t tell the truth.”

The department is also dealing with a hiring scandal; deputies who were hired despite criminal histories.

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