SAN DIEGO— On a weekday morning, a group of businessmen, scholars, residents and a sheriff’s deputy meet for coffee and eggs in the basement of a mosque, near downtown Los Angeles. They're the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress, locals who want to shape the way counter-terrorism works in their community.
On the agenda this morning, is an invitation to L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca for Ramadan services, which start in early August. Baca has reached rock-star status here, after he founded this group six years ago.
Sitting in his office in the eastern edge of the city, Baca does not appear cop-like in the least bit—he’s thin and gentle in his demeanor.
“Someone has to stick their neck out to defend Muslims,” said Baca. “We wanted to get ahead of the predictable problems that all counties face in America and that is, work closely with the immigrant public, which is a very big part of L.A.”
Since becoming sheriff in 1998, Baca has created advisory councils for various ethnic and religious communities. But the attacks of Sept. 11th, and their aftermath, have had the most impact on his tactics.
Days after the attack, Baca began reading the Qur'an, meeting with Muslim shop owners, and asking them to report hate crimes. He also assigned seven officers to a special Muslim Community Affairs Unit, which would keep tabs on what happened in mosques and neighborhoods...Oy to the vey. Barney Fife had more backbone and common sense than this doofus.