On Wednesday, May 26, 2021, Sheriff Alex Villanueva discussed the issue of “deputy cliques” and the steps he has taken to address the problem. Some politicians, their political appointees and the media have manipulated the deputy cliques’ narrative and it is important to separate perception from reality, and fiction from fact.
On his very first day as the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, he removed the Captain of the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station, replaced the entire command staff and transferred 36 deputies to other stations. Despite the pandemic and the civil unrest from last year, the Kennedy Hall investigation was completed and 26 employees were disciplined including 4 that were terminated.
In February of last year, he became the first Sheriff in Los Angeles County to successfully implement a policy addressing the issue of “deputy cliques”. A cliques’ video was produced and distributed within the department, all personnel signed “attestation forms,” and mandatory briefings regarding cliques were implemented. Additionally, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored AB 958 legislation for Peace Officer Cliques with Assembly Member Mike Gipson. Last week, the “Duty to Cooperate” video was distributed within the department. This video includes numerous other policies which are in the approval stage. “All of these reforms will further strengthen transparency and accountability as we continue to change the organizational culture,” said Sheriff Villanueva.
In addition, the use of tattoos by members of the department was addressed. In 2014, Los Angeles County Counsel concluded that a department cannot ban something that is a constitutionally protected speech and tattoos are a form of speech protected by the First and Fourth Amendments.
Sheriff Villanueva also changed a practice which had been in effect for more than half a century; the department is now releasing the names of personnel involved in shootings within 30 days, unless a credible specific threat is present. Contrary to what the media or some politicians claim, many policies have been implemented in regards to deputy cliques so that the community can assess the work of the department, trust law enforcement and the continued strengthening of relationships.
NOTE: To view the video played during the press conference of nurses who got tattoos, please follow this link: