Sheriff Villanueva Discusses Underfunding and Understaffing, Both Dangerous for L.A. County Residents
With overseeing the safety and security needs of more than ten million residents in Los Angeles County –the largest populated county in the nation- Sheriff Alex Villanueva made a startling comparison with the staffing at other policing agencies.
It was during his weekly virtual press conference on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, broadcast from the Hall of Justice that Sheriff Villanueva outlined why staffing levels matter and how being provided an inadequate budget affects it.
Agency Police Officers per 1,000 Residents
Washington D.C. Police Department 6
New York Police Department 4
Chicago Police Department 4
Los Angeles Police Department 2
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 1 (0.9 actual)
According to the United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information System Division, the average rate of sworn officers is 2.4 per 1,000 inhabitants in the nation, which means LASD is running at almost 63% behind the national average. With the largest population and in times of crisis, this could prove to be a risky and dangerous standard. Proper funding equals proper staffing, both necessary for keeping peace and order during challenging times.
The Sheriff reiterated his invitation to members of the Board of Supervisors, to meet with him and discuss the LASD budget, concerning the entire Los Angeles County budget, to identify priorities and areas of savings. “How does public safety rate in the priorities of each member of the Board of Supervisors and the CEO’s office?” posed Sheriff Villanueva. “We’re going to work with the Board of Supervisors. We’re going to work with the CEO to make sure that we’re as effective and efficient as possible. However, we cannot perform miracles,” he said.
In response to the underfunding proposal and drastic measures necessary to accommodate it, Sheriff Villanueva announced a new attempt to reorganize the entire agency around a new budget, shrunk by 10% than the actual cost of running it. Despite impending alterations, the Sheriff has extended invitations to meet with the Supervisors and CEO to work together on behalf of the Los Angeles County Community.
The impact of COVID-19 on LASD operations, in direct comparison with the same 2019 time frame, shows a 6.57% drop in violent crimes, with a12.5% hike in criminal homicide and a 30.32% plunge in rape reporting. Property crimes had a 6.13% drop, comprised of -6.69% in burglary, -15-93% in larceny-theft, -4.4% in arson, and 25.05% increase in grand theft auto.
The numbers of 73 total COVID-19-related arrests since Sunday, March 29, 2020, remained unchanged, as did the four total COVID-19-related arrests. Over the 2020 Memorial Day weekend, there were zero citations and zero arrests. The Sheriff attested not only to the credit of law enforcement personnel but also to members of our community, adhering to physical distancing protocols and compliance with health orders.
There are 380 sworn and 135 civilian staff in quarantine related to COVID-19, totaling 515 personnel. Since its inception, 178 sworn and 69 civilian staff tested positive for the virus. Of all those affected by COVID-19, there were 867 sworn and 414 civilian staff who returned to work.
Inmate COVID-19 statistics revealed a downward trend of 5,163 in current quarantine, 242 isolated, and 182 who tested positive for the virus.