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Deputy Cliques

Sheriff alex villanueva graphic. portrait of sheriff in tan shirt black tie. Sheriff's uniform, on greeen background with the hall of justice building behind him faded in the back ground.



September 10, 2021

Today the Board of Supervisors released a study performed by the RAND Corporation titled “Understanding Subgroups Within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department: Community and Department Perceptions with Recommendations for Change.”  I received the 230-page study the same time everyone else did today, so I have not had an opportunity to read it.  I look forward to learning about their study, methodologies used, limitations, and seeing how their recommendations can inform the massive reform efforts already underway.  This is part of leading a learning organization devoted to serving the public safety needs of our community.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Sheriff Discusses Organizational Change and Transparency 1024 512 SIB Staff

Sheriff Discusses Organizational Change and Transparency

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:

LASD Sheriff's Department Logo
Deputy Clicks and Subgroups Policy 800 170 SIB Staff

Deputy Clicks and Subgroups Policy

Sheriff Alex Villanueva addresses policy on deputy cliques and subgroups With Department Members.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva is the FIRST Los Angeles County Sheriff to successfully implement a policy banning “deputy cliques.” The policy went into effect in February 2020, and a video reinforcing his message was recently released to the Department. All sworn Department members have been briefed and are being held accountable. This is what culture change within the organization looks like.

View LASD Policy

Sheriff Alex Villanueva discusses the LASD policy banning Deputy Cliques.
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LA County Sheriff Zero Tolerance Policy On Deputy Cliques

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Announces A Zero Tolerance Policy On Deputy Cliques/Subgroups Engaging In Misconduct

On August 13, 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announces 26 department employees will receive letters of intent to suspend or terminate as a result of their involvement in a fight between deputies that occurred in September of 2018 at Kennedy Hall in East Los Angeles.  Following that incident, allegations arose about a deputy clique within the Department at the East Los Angeles patrol station of a subgroup known as the “Bandidos.”  

Sheriff Villanueva re-emphasized his zero-tolerance stance on this very important issue for both the Department and the community.  For the first time in the Department’s history and at the direction of Sheriff Alex Villanueva, LASD has implemented a policy that addresses misconduct by cliques and subgroups, allowing the Department to take administrative action against employees who engage in this type of behavior.  

LASD Chief Matthew Burson, who oversees Professional Standards Division, announced the Department’s newly enacted deputy clique policy that holds deputies to a higher standard as it relates to misconduct by deputy cliques and/or subgroups.  Chief Burson explained that if a deputy violated department policy the corrective actions will range from suspensions to termination of employment.

Finally, Commander April Tardy, who oversees LASD’s Central Patrol Division, outlined the administrative investigation process and how these numerous investigations are also reviewed by outside agencies including the District Attorney’s Office and the Office of Inspector General.

Sheriff Villanueva said, “After 20 months in office, we have taken the legal and procedural steps necessary to ensure that we are holding our employees accountable to the rule of law, as I will not tolerate any group of employees who mistreats any member of the community or another member of the Department.”

If you have concerns regarding the above, share your voice.  You may contact your Board of Supervisors at the below:
 County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors

Hilda L. Solis
Supervisor, First District
Phone: (213) 974-4111

Mark Ridley-Thomas
Supervisor, Second District
Phone: (213) 974-2222

Sheila Kuehl
Supervisor, Third District
Phone: (213) 974-3333

Janice Hahn
Supervisor, Fourth District
Phone: (213) 974-4444

Kathryn Barger – CHAIR
Supervisor, Fifth District
Phone: (213) 974-5555

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