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.
Below is the full press conference: