Reassures Residents; “Let’s Be Prepared, Not Scared”
press conference on Monday, March 16, 2020, at the Hall of Justice, Sheriff
Alex Villanueva stated his reassurance that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department is working hard to ensure law enforcement services in the areas we
serve remain uninterrupted by the coronavirus.
County Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) remains open at a Level I status, fully-staffed
with knowledgeable experts from other L.A. County departments. Our Department continues to collaborate with
local agencies, monitor world events and provide the most up-to-date
information to the public.
innovative and creative measures, Sheriff Villanueva was adamant about keeping
staff levels up and the inmate population count down. Staff vacations were cancelled through the
end of April to ensure more personnel are on-hand, and those working non-essential
assignments can be temporarily moved to custody or patrol assignments to offset
and augment manpower shortages. This
decision is particularly helpful for coverage, as a small number of personnel
were self-quarantined over the weekend.
Sheriff raised the aggregate bail amount for booking inmates raised from $25,000
to $50,000, which allows more people to receive citations, rather than get
booked into custody. This reduces the
number of people entering our jail facilities, therefore lowering chances of
the virus being introduced into that environment. Out of the 16,459 inmates in today’s morning
count, there were zero confirmed cases of coronavirus. Nine inmates are in isolation housing, 21
inmates are in quarantine at Men’s Central Jail, and five inmates are in
quarantine at Twin Towers Correctional Facility.
protective equipment was issued to field personnel. Inventory of these supplies was bulked-up,
with a likely request to follow for the release of Service and Supply funds, to
address the ongoing need for more items, such as masks, gloves, goggles, and
sanitizer. Patrol station and custody
facility unit commanders were directed to sanitize their stations and jails as
a preventative measure. Personnel are
reminded to be cognizant of hand-washing, don personal protective equipment,
covering sneezes, not touching their faces, and practice social distancing
all county buildings being ordered to close their doors to the public, Sheriff
Villanueva directed all patrol stations to keep their lobbies open. He encouraged the use of online reporting for
non-emergent, qualifying incidents, as outlined here: http://shq.lasdnews.net/shq/SORTS/sorts_intro.aspx
or calling your local patrol station. He
also asked that those who must visit a patrol station for services, such as
regularly-scheduled child custody exchanges or compliance check-ins, to notify
deputies if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, fever or respiratory
illness so they can take precautionary measures.
events occur, information regarding public safety and other services will be
provided by our agency and updated on several platforms. Please monitor our social media sites,
@LASDHQ on Twitter, @LosAngelesCountySheriffDepartment on Facebook, and our https://lasd.org/
website for up-to-date information.
Stay connected, remain
composed and we will get through this together.
Sheriff Villanueva and
the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force Announce Arrests and
Rescues by California Law Enforcement
Reclaim and Rebuild
conjunction with Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Sheriff Alex Villanueva
announced details and results from the sixth annual Operation Reclaim and
Rebuild enforcement operation, conducted by the Los Angeles Regional Human
Trafficking Task Force and 70 participating federal, state and local law
enforcement agencies, and task forces from across California. The weeklong, statewide effort aimed at
combatting human trafficking took place between Sunday, January 26, and
Saturday, February 1, 2020, and was conducted in various mediums and met with
press conference was held Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at the iconic Hall of
Justice in downtown Los Angeles. Sheriff
Alex Villanueva was joined by executives and representatives from the Los
Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, California Department of
Justice, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) , San Bernardino
County Sheriff’s Department, Contra Costa County Human Trafficking Task Force,
Homeland Security Investigations, Journey Out, Los Angeles County Department of
Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Probation Department, Los
Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles
School Police Department, Anaheim Police Department, Concord Police Department,
San Gabriel Police Department, Saving Innocence, and Zoe International.
Reclaim and Rebuild focused on rescuing victims of sexual slavery and human
trafficking, providing victims with much-needed services, identifying and
arresting their captors, seeking successful prosecutions, and disrupting the
demand for vulnerable victims by targeting their customers. Police agencies and other trafficking task
forces throughout our state joined in the enforcement operation to send the
clear message that California law enforcement shares a unified mandate: Human trafficking must not be tolerated in
preparation for the event, an operational planning meeting took place in Los
Angeles, with over 200 federal, state and municipal law enforcement detectives
from all over California in attendance.
Investigators focused enforcement operations wherever the trafficking of
human beings took place, from confronting the reality of sidewalk prostitution
by conducting demand operations, to challenging the virtual reality of the
cyber world where traffickers believe they can operate anonymously using the
internet furnishes a vast variety of opportunities for traffickers, but with
the experience of specially-trained cyber detectives who posed as vulnerable
teenagers and interacted with suspects on social media, traffickers and
customers who were anxious to exploit found their plans foiled.
encountered during enforcement efforts were cared for by personnel from various
Department of Children and Family Services Agencies and victim service
providers in each county. In Los Angeles
County, CAST, Saving Innocence, Zoe International, and Journey Out coordinated
the emergency services response for victim care and collaborated with similar,
non-governmental victim service organizations throughout the state.
Reclaim and Rebuild was widely successful in its endeavor with 76 adult and 11
minor victims being recovered; 266 males arrested for the charge of
Solicitation; and 27 suspected traffickers and exploiters were arrested. In total, 518 arrests were made.
Sheriff Villanueva relayed the mission, efforts
and results of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, and gave a firm direction to the victims: “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
and our partners stand with each victim of this heinous crime. You are the focus of this endeavor. We are here for you. We are here to help you reclaim your freedom
from the binds of sex trafficking, and to provide you the support and tools to
“To the traffickers and
solicitors: We will not tolerate the
enslavement and trafficking of others in any form. We will seek you out and prosecute you to the
fullest extent of the law.
Johns: Purchasing commercial sex is
illegal and buying sex adds to the exploitation of those involved,” he said
Michael Hannemann, who oversaw the coordinated effort, defined the
undertaking. “Operation Reclaim and
Rebuild is a state-wide operation which displays the mutual commitment of
California law enforcement, social service agencies, and victim service
providers in the fight to end sex trafficking,” he said. “The L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task
Force is an example of how individual entities can be far more effective, when
they join together in a shared mission.
Today, 11 children have been rescued from their exploiters and 76 women
have been connected with the services necessary to rebuild their lives, free
task force, we are continuing to find cutting-edge approaches to serving
survivors that prioritize their rights, secure their safety, and provide access
to services – while holding traffickers accountable,” said CAST CEO and
Executive Director Kay Buck. “I want to
thank all of the amazing community leaders that are a part of the task force
for being stewards of our shared community values and our evolving national
Chief Kris Pitcher, Los Angeles Police Department, shared four cases which came
as a result of Human Trafficking Taskforce operations and daily operations. He attributed them to the collaborative work
between organizations and non-governmental resource providers which come
alongside to lift victims, “…out of their issues, provide them life-saving skills,
life-building skills, and ultimately…prosecute those vicious criminals who prey
“Human trafficking amounts to nothing less than modern day slavery
and has no place in our society,” said
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement.“It’s
up to us to take on criminals who profit from forced labor and sexual
exploitation of vulnerable Californians. Operation Reclaim and Rebuild is a
testament to what can be accomplished to support survivors and combat
trafficking in our state.”
Sheriff Villanueva Hosts First Media Briefing Event of 2020
Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s monthly media briefing on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, took place at the Hall of Justice. It included lots of good news, as well as a glimpse at happier times in the life of a partner recently lost.
The topic of promotions kicked-off the event, in which the Sheriff announced that, for the first time in our agency’s 170-year history, the majority of promotions were received by females and minorities. Since the beginning of his tenure, 276 sworn personnel were promoted to the rank of sergeant or higher; 41% of them were Latino, 36% were Caucasian, 18% were female, 15% were Black, and 4.5% were Asian.
A recent mumps outbreak at Men’s Central Jail was efficiently handled and quickly combatted by medical personnel from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, who manage the health of our jail population. In recognition of their efforts, Commander Jason Wolak, who oversees Custody Services Division-General Population, outlined the efforts made by the medical professionals and line staff. Working together, they were able educate and inform the inmate population, and thus gain their cooperation, which resulted in 3,400 men being willingly vaccinated, as well as 1,100 staff. In gratitude and recognition of their collaboration and contribution to successfully halt the outbreak, Sheriff Villanueva presented formal, written documents of recognition, called scrolls, to 11 medical professionals present at the event.
Sheriff Villanueva addressed the successes of the Homeless Outreach Services Team, known as HOST, which is participating in current census efforts to include a number count of those experiencing homelessness. Sergeant Bill Kitchin, one of the team’s supervisors, explained the mission of HOST is to “positively impact the homeless crisis in the county, while increasing public safety and preserving the rights and dignity of persons experiencing homelessness.” Through their encounters with thousands of our homeless neighbors, they earned the reputation of being compassionate, accountable, innovative, and bold. Their unique approach to combat homelessness is a very nontraditional role for law enforcement. Because of it, successful relationships are formed; this allows them to connect those in need with people and services, and preserve public safety.
The media event closed somberly with the remembrance of Deputy Amber Leist. Her loss occurred in the act of service for a stranger in need. After coming to the aid of an elderly pedestrian who fell while crossing a Los Angeles City street, Amber was struck by a vehicle and fatally wounded. She died Sunday morning, January 12, 2020.