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Sheriff Villanueva Responds to the RAND Report and Discusses Reforms in the Sheriff’s Department 1024 683 SIB Staff

Sheriff Villanueva Responds to the RAND Report and Discusses Reforms in the Sheriff’s Department

On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference at the Hall of Justice to respond to the recent RAND Report. Sheriff Villanueva read 188 pages of the report and under his “Rebuild, Reform, and Restore” campaign, out of the 37 recommendations that were identified, LASD had 30 of those recommendations actively in place prior to the release of the report. The remaining 7 are under review and some of them involve training which requires funding. It is important to note that the cost of providing 8 hours of training to the Department is approximately $7.2 million, and the current budget does not allow it.

Sheriff Villanueva noted that implementing significant reforms does not happen overnight and correcting 50 years of failed leadership will take time. He focused on reforms that have taken place under his leadership such as the Deputy Cliques Policy (MPP3-01/50.83). It is a policy that did not exist before and it took effect on February of the year 2020.

As a result of the George Floyd murder, the Duty to Intervene Policy (MPP 3-01/030.14) was implemented. The Department had a policy that was subject to interpretation but this new policy leaves no doubt that Department members shall intervene and report an incident when they observe a serious violation of any Department policy. Failure to intervene may result in criminal prosecution.

Other important policies that have been initiated are:

  • Whistleblower Protection Policy – (MPP 3-01/30.22)
  • Protections Against Retaliation for Reporting Misconduct Policy – (MPP3-01/030.22)
  • Threat Assessment of Department Personnel Following Involvement in Significant Incidents (Detective Division Order 21-2)
  • Transparency Promise (all information the Department can lawfully share is on the website)
  • Body Worn Cameras (20 out of 23 stations are now using body worn cameras and in two more months, all stations will have them.)

Sheriff Villanueva announced that a total of 874 personnel have been disciplined from December 3, 2018 to September 13, 2021, and out of that number, 120 have been given Letters of Intent to Discharge. He emphasized that he has held employees accountable, but one thing he does not do is prosecute, as that is the job of the District Attorney. LASD is responsible for criminal investigations and those are turned over to the D.A. and those investigations sometimes sit with the D.A. for years.

He also noted the report contradicted itself, stating at one point deputy cliques were still actively adding members (p.xi), while later saying they did not seem to be actively adding members (p.97). Print news media widely used the first statement while completely ignoring the latter.

“With all the negative press associated with the deputy subgroups, with the efforts that I’ve done, my administration has done, putting the policy, enforcing the policy, creating a video that every single member of the department had to see, they had to sign an attestation form, and it goes into each individual’s personnel jacket. None of this was mentioned in the RAND study. Why? Because they were not interested in the truth, that’s the sad reality,” said Sheriff Villanueva.

Sheriff Villanueva pointed out a statement he found troubling: “Community leaders and members were mostly critical of current department leadership, expressing concerns about a lack of transparency, a lack of trust, and a culture of aggressive policing” (p.161, p.xii). “I read through the entire report and did not find a single reference comparing current Department leadership and past Department leadership, not one, So, how did they come up with one?” asked Sheriff Villanueva.

It was later discovered that the Civilian Oversight Commission, which is appointed by the Board of Supervisors, provided people who had participated in focus groups in the process of gathering information. If the information had been drawn from the public at large, it would have been a rather fair report but the information came from people that were biased against the Department.

The RAND Report is the first of its kind entirely devoted to LASD sub-groups. The actual cost of the report was over $1 million and there was also a $1.5 million in property tax forgiveness that the County bequeathed to the Santa Monica-based RAND Institute.

Press Conference

Additional Material

Press Conference Slides – PDF

Picture of Sheriff at a wood podium with the Sheriff's star on it. Speaking to the media. Supervisor Bardger is on the sheriff's left, firther to his right are representatives from Antelope Valley and the D E A, Game and Wildlife and other orgaizations, On tables infront of the sheriff are laid out over 30 siezed automatic rifles and various hand guns that were also siezed from the operation.
Antelope Valley Marijuana Eradication Operation 900 549 SIB Staff

Antelope Valley Marijuana Eradication Operation

Antelope Valley Marijuana Eradication Operation

On Wednesday, July 7, 2021, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced the results of the Marijuana Eradication Operation which began on the early hours of Tuesday, June 8, 2021, and lasted 10 days. The collaborative operation took place in the Antelope Valley and several local, state and federal agencies were involved including: over 400 personnel from multiple Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department units, deputies from the Community Partnerships Bureau, Operation Safe Street and Special Victims Bureau detectives, Lancaster and Palmdale Station deputies, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, California National Guard, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and members from the Kern County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County Sheriff’s Departments.

In 2020, Narcotics Bureau Detectives identified 150 illegal outdoor marijuana grows in the Antelope Valley. In 2021, investigators conducted reconnaissance flights and they identified over 500 illegal cannabis grows.

Violent crime has been linked directly to the grow sites. In July 2020, two murder victims were discovered adjacent to an illegal marijuana grow in the unincorporated area of Lancaster. In March 2021, a murder victim was found buried in the desert near Lake Los Angeles and the suspects wanted in connection with the murder operated an illegal marijuana grow in Lake Los Angeles. Threats by armed individuals against citizens living in close proximity to illegal marijuana grows have occurred on a regular basis and were increasing in frequency.

The threat to the environment and wildlife cannot begin to be calculated as growers consistently use banned pesticides and fertilizers for their illegal crops. Two dead bears were discovered and their death is attributed to pesticide use.

Water theft occurs at an alarming rate and it has threatened the water supply for residents in the eastern portion of the antelope valley.  Theft occurs from fire hydrants and unpermitted water wells that were being drilled on the grow sites.

“Most Californians would be shocked and disappointed at the amount of water these unlicensed, illegal grows are using, especially as California suffers from a drought,” said DEA Associate Special Agent in Charge Curt Fallin.  “By our calculation, the illegal grows in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties require an astounding 5.4 million gallons of water a day, every day.”

Thanks to public calls for service and multiple complaints from residents, the largest operation in the history of the Los Angeles county Sheriff’s Department was developed to put an end to the hundreds of illegal marijuana cultivations in the Antelope Valley.

As result of this operation, a total of 131 arrests were made; 65 vehicles, including two water trucks were seized; approximately $28,000 dollars in U.S currency were seized; a total of 33,480 pounds of harvested marijuana were seized; 30 locations were demolished, 33 firearms were sized;  180 animals were rescued; and there were19 water theft arrests. The total estimated street value of the plants destroyed is $1.193 billion dollars.

“What we want to do is send a clear and loud message to all the cartels and anyone doing illegal operations in the high desert, ‘your days here are over and we’re coming for you,’” said Sheriff Villanueva.

Anyone who sees activity that appears to be suspicious or criminal in nature should contact their local sheriff’s station, or remain anonymous and call “Crime Stoppers” at (800) 222-TIPS.

Video of the Press Conference

Press Conference Slides – PDF

Investigators Seek Information on Abandoned Baby and Person of Interest 1024 768 SIB Staff

Investigators Seek Information on Abandoned Baby and Person of Interest

On Thursday, June 17, 2021, Special Victims Bureau detectives held a press conference to discuss the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of a newborn baby. They asked anyone with information to help identify a person of interest. 

On Friday, June 11, 2021, at approximately 8:00 a.m. a newborn Hispanic and/or African American baby boy was found by a park patron in a public restroom at Yvonne Burke-John D. Ham Park, in the city of Lynwood, CA. As the park visitor entered the restroom, she heard a “whimpering noise” coming from a trashcan and upon inspecting it, she found a baby amongst trash. She rescued the baby and called 911. Deputies assigned to the Century Sheriff’s Station as well as personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded and rendered aid. The baby was transported to the hospital and was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit where he is listed in stable condition.  

The parents of the baby have not been identified and detectives are looking for a person of interest seen on surveillance video. Throughout the investigation, the detectives learned these females may have some information that can potentially be helpful. She is a female Hispanic, late teens to early 20’s, 5’4, 120-125lbs, dark complexion, and wavy hair. The person was seen at the park with another female, who was wearing a light colored cardigan and had a small child that was pushing a pink trike stroller.

California has a Safely Surrendered Baby Law, which gives parents or guardians the choice to legally and safely surrender their baby at any hospital or fire station in Los Angeles County, with no questions asked. Since the program first launched in 2001, over 180 newborns have been safely surrendered in Los Angeles County.

A silver lining of this unfortunate situation is that there have been numerous inquiries about adopting the baby boy, including personnel from the Sheriff’s and Fire Department, as well as the responding paramedics and nurses that treated the baby in the hospital. He is now under the care and custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Information on the adoption process can be found at dcfs.lacounty.gov/caregivers/adoption/ or the Adoption and Foster Recruitment line at (888) 811-1121.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims Bureau at (562) 946-8200 or by email at specialvictimsbureau@lasd.org.  If you prefer to provide information anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile App on Google Play or the Apple App Store, or use the website http://lacrimestoppers.org/.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva Announces Crack Down on Illegal Marijuana Operations 1024 576 SIB Staff

Sheriff Alex Villanueva Announces Crack Down on Illegal Marijuana Operations

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration conducted a collaborative operation to take down multiple illegal marijuana grows in Unincorporated Lancaster.

As a result of information received through public calls for service and multiple complaints from residents in Unincorporated Lancaster, the largest operation in the history of the Sheriff’s Department was developed to put an end to the hundreds of illegal marijuana cultivations in the Antelope Valley. Over 400 personnel from multiple Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Bureaus, the National Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and members from the Kern County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department were part of the operation.  

In the year 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Narcotic Bureau Detectives identified 150 illegal marijuana cultivations during a flight reconnaissance. This year, the number increased to over 500.  The cultivations grew in size as well, the average size per grow was eight greenhouses and now the average is 15. Today, a 75 greenhouse grow that covered 10 acres of ground was bulldozed. Violent crime is also directly linked to illegal cultivations. Armed cartel members stealing water in the middle of the night from farmers and residents has become a common sight.

“We’re going to send a loud and clear message to all the cartels and illegal operations, ‘your days here are over and you need to pack up and leave or we’re going to find you,’” said Sheriff Villanueva.

So far, 23 arrests were made, 5 firearms were seized, 2 water trucks were recovered, and marijuana worth millions of dollars was seized from greenhouses.  Also, during the operation, seven mixed breed dogs including four puppies were recovered by LASD personnel and are now under the care of Reversed Rescue, a non-profit dog rescue organization. 


The success of this operation was possible because of the wide range of agencies that collaborated and thanks to the information collected from countless investigation hours and tips provided by courageous people who trust law enforcement.

Sheriff’s Naloxone Custody Pilot Project saves Inmates from Overdose 150 150 SIB Staff

Sheriff’s Naloxone Custody Pilot Project saves Inmates from Overdose

Two inmates are alive today after being saved by two separate doses of Naloxone also known as Narcan, administered by fellow inmates. On Wednesday, May 26th, at approximately 5:37 pm, Deputies assigned to work the North County Correctional Facility (NCCF) were alerted of two inmates in medical distress. Deputies and custody medical staff immediately responded to the dorm and found two inmates on an upper-tier, unconscious, suffering from possible overdoses. However, this potential tragic outcome was averted by fellow inmates housed in the same dorm. 

At the direction of Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recently implemented a program in the custodial environment that provides inmates access to Narcan, a medication that, if administered quickly, can be highly effective in reversing an opioid overdose.  Inmates watch an instructional video on administering the medication during their Inmate Orientation program.

When Deputies arrived, the two unconscious inmates had just received a dose of Narcan, administered by fellow inmates. Minutes later, a third inmate began to complain of dizziness. All three inmates were treated by medical staff on scene and subsequently transported to a local hospital for further treatment. Hours later, they returned to their housing facility.

With opioid overdoses on the rise, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wants to ensure that inmate safety is of utmost priority. Currently, two Narcan doses are being distributed in each of the dorms at NCCF.   If the pilot program continues to save lives, the Department plans to expand this program to all custody facilities. 

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:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/abc7.com/amp/covid19-coronavirus-nurses-tattoos/9534955/

Family standing in front of memoral wall, small tree is being planted, Sheriff Alex Villanueva is holding a shoval.
The American Legion Star Post 309 Honors Retired LASD Commander, Thomas Vetter 1024 768 SIB Staff

The American Legion Star Post 309 Honors Retired LASD Commander, Thomas Vetter

The Tree Planting Ceremony was first introduced in the 1930s as an Arbor Day Project by the American Legion Star Post 309. The Ceremony was later changed to a Memorial Day commemoration.  It is one of the longest continuing observance of its kind in Los Angeles County, suspended only during World War II.

image of vetter next to two marines inside of a heliocoptor. Vintage black and white image.
vintage image of Vetter in unifom stading infront of soldier color guard holding flags.

This year the Star Post 309 celebrated the life achievements of one of their very own Past Commanders, Thomas Vetter who retired as an LASD Commander and served as Star Post Commander in 1966. His End of Watch was January 16, 2021.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Star Post 309 was founded by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies who were also World War I veterans. One of the founders was William I. Traeger who served as the 26th Sheriff of Los Angeles County.

vintage black and white photo of 10 men in stuits with legion cover hats on. Posing shoulder to shoulder infront of a wall sized american flag.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva standing infront of the Star Post 309 Memorial wal giving a speech infront of a crowd.

In later years, memorial plaques were added to the newly planted trees in commemoration of Past Commanders and Worthy Members of Star Post 309.  Trees were planted as a permanent and living memorial to the military veterans of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, and other notable law enforcement officers in the State of California.

During this month of May, we celebrate the lives and memories of those who have died in the line of duty as law enforcement officers and as Memorial Day is upon us, we shall honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice of service to our great Nation.  #MilitaryAppreciationMonth

Image of Sheriff Alex Villanueva giving speach infront of the Star Post Memorial wall at a podium between the american flag and the American Legion flag.
VALOR AWARD PRESENTED TO SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT BUREAU 1024 681 SIB Staff

VALOR AWARD PRESENTED TO SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT BUREAU

On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, San Bernardino County Undersheriff Shannon Dicus presented the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) Medal of Valor to five Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Air Rescue 5 helicopter crew members for their effort, skill, determination, and commitment during the search and recovery operation of SBSD Search and Rescue (SAR) member Timothy Staples.

Staples was one of 126 people across 23 teams searching for Sreenivas “Sree” Mokkapati, who was reported missing on December 8, 2019, after becoming separated from his group while ascending Mount Baldy. Staples’ partner on the search and rescue team alerted the sheriff’s department on Saturday that he had become separated from Staples. Despite inclement weather conditions and treacherous terrain, members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air Rescue 5 helicopter crew located Staples in “an area of ice and snow.” He was unresponsive, and a crew member lowered to Staples determined he was dead.

Even though the operation turned into a recovery, the crew’s efforts still demonstrate the dangerous working conditions search and rescue personnel face every day. “In my opinion, the LASD has one of the best search and rescue programs in the nation, and the Flight Deputies and Crew of Air 5 are the cream of the crop,” said Sheriff Villanueva.

San Bernardino County Undersheriff Shannon Dicus presented the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor to Los Angeles County Air Rescue 5 Crew member Deputies Todd Kocisko, Scott Helbing, Steve Pratt, Jennifer Shepard, and Sergeant Dave Carver for their act of bravery during the operation.

SHERIFF PRESENTS CHECK TO POMONA VALLEY HOSPITAL 1024 487 SIB Staff

SHERIFF PRESENTS CHECK TO POMONA VALLEY HOSPITAL

In an ongoing effort to increase public awareness about the fight against breast cancer, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva presented a $10,500.00 check to the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Breast Health Center.

Proceeds were generated through the Pink Patch Project, a collaborative effort between the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association (LACPCA) and over 500 public safety agencies throughout the United States. As part of this program, participating agencies sell their commemorative pink patches not only to public safety personnel but also to the community. In addition to pink patches, other merchandise, including T-shirts, challenge coins, and stuffed animals, is sold to generate funds. Last year face masks were added to the list. Proceeds from the sale of these items go to fund breast cancer education, research, and treatment.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the community’s support of the Pink Patch Project,” said Richard E. Yochum, FACHE, President/CEO of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. “The funds raised help us to provide free resources to those in our community affected by cancer, including Nurse Navigators for patients, support groups, a wig program, creative journaling and exercise classes, as well as investments in advanced technologies, such as our SmartCurve breast stabilization system, which reduces pain during mammograms, and the DigniCap Scalp Cooling System that reduces the risk of hair loss during chemotherapy treatment.”

Maria Perez, a former patient of PVHMC, shared her story of survival: “When they tell you ‘you have stage IV cancer’ and when you see your kids, and you see that you’re going to leave them by themselves, who is going to take care of them? I pushed myself to come here.” 

Sheriff Villanueva, a cancer survivor himself, added: “Early detection, prevention, and intervention is the key to success, and we want to encourage and facilitate any which way we can to give all the resources to the community to facilitate treatment.”

Please visit www.lasdpatch.com to purchase pink patches and other merchandise. Proceeds from the sale of these items will directly benefit cancer research and treatment.

picture of Chief LaJuana Haselrig presented a generous donation to Freddie Muse Jr., President/C.E.O. of The Men’s Cancer Network
Court Services held its inaugural “Movember Fundraiser” 900 650 SIB Staff

Court Services held its inaugural “Movember Fundraiser”

Court Services held its inaugural “Movember Fundraiser”

For the month of November of 2020, Court Services held its inaugural “Movember Fundraiser” with the objective of raising awareness of men’s health issues, and partnering with difference-makers within Los Angeles County.

November has been designated as Movember, and in support of men’s health issues, supporters are encouraged to grow a moustache during the month of November. In correlation with the moustache theme, Sergeant Pedro Magdaleno Jr. designed a distinguished and collectable, Challenge Coin. The challenge coin displays the inaugural fundraiser year of 2020, and is complemented by a strong handle-bar moustache on the backside of the coin.

Front side of the coin has the sheriff's star siting over the American flag and the California State flag, the words "A Tradition of Service" along the bottom. The back of the coin has the LASD Cancer Awareness patch with a moustache underneith it, The words "Movember to Remember, Bringing Awareness to Men's Health Runs around the coin.

Court Services is committed to serving the community we work in. We strive to network with people who are displaying their passion to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Los Angeles County. Therefore, the profits from this fundraiser was donated to The Men’s Cancer Network, in the City of Los Angeles. The Men’s Cancer Network has been busy in the community: They offer health education, statistical literature, virtual forums, testimonials, website services, cancer screenings, and a host of other resources available to the public.

On behalf of The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department – Court Services Division, Chief LaJuana Haselrig presented a generous donation to Freddie Muse Jr., President/C.E.O. of The Men’s Cancer Network.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this worthy fundraiser. We are making a difference, where it counts, when it counts.