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Sheriff Addresses BOS proposed budget cuts 1024 819 SIB Staff

Sheriff Addresses BOS proposed budget cuts

Sheriff Villanueva Addresses Board of Supervisors’ Proposed Budget Cut, Its Effect on Operations Now and Through the Year 2023

SHERIFF VILLANUEVA ADDRESSES BOARD OF SUPERVISORS’ PROPOSED BUDGET CUT, ITS EFFECT ON OPERATIONS NOW AND THROUGH THE YEAR 2023

In early May, 2020, the Board of Supervisors recommended a budget of $3.5 billion for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 2020-2021 fiscal year, a staggering $400 million short of the $3.9 billion budget needed to run it. This shortage affects the most valuable asset we have: Staff.“The Sheriff’s Department is forced to run in the red because the Board of Supervisors does not prioritize public safety and they are the ones that hold the checkbook,” said Sheriff Villanueva during a virtual press conference given Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at the Sherman Block Building in Monterey Park.Watch as Sheriff Villanueva outlines several cuts to the LASD budget and the impact on LASD for years to come.To read more, visit: https://lasd.org/sheriff-addresses-bos-proposed-budget-cuts/

Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

How ironic it is that the nation’s biggest sheriff’s department is largely understaffed and underfunded.  With an obligation to provide law enforcement services to one of the top ten largest populations across the United States, ensuring there is an adequate amount of funds to keep it operating smoothly and efficiently throughout natural, manmade and circumstantial events is quite a task.

In early May, 2020, the Board of Supervisors recommended a budget of $3.5 billion for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 2020-2021 fiscal year, a staggering $400 million short of the $3.9 billion budget needed to run it.  This shortage affects the most valuable asset we have:  Staff.  With an already-existing vacancy of 712 positions, a budget  reduction would limit the new backfill of recruits to be trained and shrink our agency significantly, with a projected number of more than 1,300 sworn vacancies in fiscal year 2022-2023 and an escalated amount of overtime to cover those positions.

Still, cuts must be made.  Sheriff Villanueva proposed to reduce the number of academy classes from 12 to eight per year, which would provide a yearly cost savings of almost $22 million.  With the average attrition rate of 421 sworn personnel per year, that would shrink our organization by 160 sworn personnel per year.  These are devastating numbers, but less so than the Board of Supervisors’ desire to slash the number of academy classes from 12 to four per year, allowing the hire of only 175 deputies.  That number, subtracted from the 421 average attrition rate, would shrink our organization by upward of 250 deputies per year and leave our agency in a dangerous lurch.

Not having funds to cycle sufficient new bodies through academy classes will eventually bring movement to a grinding halt:  New bodies won’t be enough to fill custody positions, which would otherwise push custody deputies out into vacant patrol assignments, which would clog up the promotion process of filling mandatory supervisorial positions. 

“The Sheriff’s Department is forced to run in the red because the Board of Supervisors does not prioritize public safety and they are the ones that hold the checkbook,” said Sheriff Villanueva during a virtual press conference given Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at the Sherman Block Building in Monterey Park.

Shorting the budget would actually create a larger deficit and proves that funding academy classes would save money over time.  Drafting, or ordering, personnel to remain for a second shift to fill a staffing vacancy costs 50% more because of the overtime factor.  As an example of the inflated cost to fill voids:  One lieutenant vacancy costs $172,500 in overtime per year, one sergeant vacancy costs $145,200 in overtime per year, and one deputy vacancy costs $120,600 per year.  By not providing budget monies up front, it will cost Los Angeles County taxpayers more in the end.

Fatigue is another factor.  Patrol and custody staff forced to work overtime and cover mandatory staffing minimums with no relief in sight suffer added stress, and physical and emotional fatigue.  We must remember everything boils down to our best and most important asset, and see them as a whole person with limits, not as a robot.  “It is not fair to as them [deputies] to work large amounts of overtime to continuously supplement our vacancy shortages,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger in April, 2018.

To compensate for the shortage, Sheriff Alex Villanueva looked at a variety of measures other than cutting academy classes, to ensure the basics were covered.  These included cutting unfunded programs and integrating those personnel into line positions, closing two patrol stations, eliminating two bureaus, and curtailing detective positions. 

Although under threat of a misdemeanor charge by the Board of Supervisors if he does not come under budget, the Sheriff articulated his obligation to meet not only their demands, but those of the law, the Constitution, contracts held, consent decree, etc., made difficult under such financial constraint.  “We’ve gone through everything that is physically possible to make our organization as lean and effective as possible, but we are still burdened,” said Sheriff Villanueva. 

Budget shortages are not new.  Sheriff Villanueva pointed out financial shortfalls during the tenure of previous administrations and Boards of Supervisors.  For fiscal year 2018-2019, CEO Sachi Hamai warned the Board of Supervisors of a $101.8 million budget deficit, primarily for unfunded employee benefits costs, separation pay and miscellaneous pay.   These shortfalls are not to be borne; it is a breech to approve contracts of agreement with labor unions to pay employees and refuse to fund it.  CEO Hamai told Board members in April, 2018, about our longstanding status of being understaffed and underfunded, “The numbers reflect a historical imbalance in place for the last 20 years, long before the Sheriff was elected,” and, “The Sheriff’s budget does not reflect the actual spending in many of the line item categories.”   

Since taking office in 2018, Sheriff Villanueva alleviated the budget by eliminating numerous executive positions, consolidating ten bureaus in to five, mandating divisions to reduce overtime by 50% while striving to maintain essential activities, and eliminating non-line positions.  With all this chopping, however, the Board of Supervisors continues to offer a lowball proposal.

Sheriff Villanueva closed the event by offering to meet with the Board of Supervisors and have them identify which activities they wish to curtail (to meet the budget).  “We can no longer play games with public safety and pretend, somehow, we have the resources to cover the need.  We don’t,” he said.

Large sign that reads, : Covid-19 Regional Decontamination Center.
Innovation and Fiscal Responsibility, in the Face of COVID-19 900 643 SIB Staff

Innovation and Fiscal Responsibility, in the Face of COVID-19

Innovation and Fiscal Responsibility, in the Face of COVID-19

During a virtual press conference given Monday, April 27, 2020, Sheriff Alex Villanueva was joined by Dr. Christina Ghaly, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Service; Chief Daryl Osby, Los Angeles County Fire Department; Captain Chris Kovac, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department-Custody Support Services; and Director Wesley Grose, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department-Scientific Services Bureau. 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva Speaking at a podium infront of thousands of masks inside a decontamination Center.

The event was held at the COVID-19 Regional Decontamination Center, located at the first Los Angeles County custody facility built in 1963 specifically for women and named for philanthropist and women’s rights advocate, Sybil Brand.  The Sybil Brand Institute, located in East Los Angeles, was innovative for its time and continues to be so, in contemporary times, as well.

Front of the Regional Decontamination Center. Masks sit infront of a large window, viewable from the courtyard.

Sheriff Villanueva began the conference with a reminder to continue practicing physical distancing protocols, then outlined the reflection of lowered percentages in crime statistics calculated during the COVID-19 quarantine, as compared to last year.

Because medical and public safety personnel often find themselves in positions and situations with a greater potential for exposure to COVID-19, Sheriff Villanueva collaborated with some of our county partners to create a decontamination center, from which they spoke.  Captain Kovac recognized the need for such a place, in light of a world shortage of N95 masks and gowns, and counterfeit products.  He questioned if it were possible to sanitize and reuse the personal protective equipment we already have.  Research identified a process called Hydrogen Peroxide Vaporization, which could make cleaning and reuse of the equipment possible, and extend the life of our inventory, as well as our budget.  “Innovation and fiscal responsibility,” said the Sheriff, is what we must practice.

The four-step cleaning process is conducted inside of a decontamination chamber the size of a small dishwasher.  It dispenses a mist of vaporized hydrogen peroxide over the masks, eliminating 99.9% of all pathogens within a few hours, without removing any of its protective properties.  A system of conditioning, gassing, dwell time, and aeration give new life to used personal protective equipment, with water and oxygen as its only byproducts.

The process was vetted by numerous studies, cited by the Centers for Disease Control, and is in motion within Los Angeles County now.  It will take place around the clock and is expected to sanitize more than 30,000 masks per day.  The LASD will manage the program with our stakeholders and county partners, allowing front line workers across the board to reuse the same N95 mask up to 20 times.

Thousands of facemask haning on racks inside the decontamination center.

With prices for N95 masks fluctuating between $3.75 and $12.74 per piece, the economic impact of extending the value and life of our equipment, as opposed to additional purchasing, will certainly benefit all county agencies across the board, and ultimately save tens of millions of dollars.  Decontamination costs pennies on the dollar, as opposed to the cost of continuously replenishing stock.  For example, the cost of 250,000 masks at $3.75 per piece is $937,000; a $50,000 cost of putting them through 20 decontamination cycles makes their adjusted total purchase cost $987,5000.  In an estimation of five million masks needed to get us through the pandemic, the savings on decontamination versus purchasing five million more new pieces would lead to a $17,762,000 savings.  If the five million pieces went through 50 decontamination cycles, this would lead to a staggering $18,325,000 in savings.

The equipment used in the cleaning process was generously provided by the University of California-Los Angeles.  Their dedication to helping others was articulated in a statement:  “Just as others have supported UCLA’s front-line health care workers, UCLA is pleased to support the Sheriff’s Department in its important effort to establish a decontamination center for N95 masks used by first responders.  UCLA is honored to make available hydrogen peroxide fogging equipment used to clean many of our research labs now idled for safety reasons because of the pandemic. We are all in this together, helping our community in a time of need.  #TeamLA”

Sheriff Villanueva standing inside the center with staff among hanging masks.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, “Our medical and public safety personnel place themselves in positions where the potential for catching COVID-19 is greater.  It is our role as public safety leaders to do everything we can to provide our personnel with the equipment they need to do their jobs.  This center will decontaminate masks around the clock.  It is our expectation the center will decontaminate over 30,000 masks per day, ensuring first responders have access to what they need to protect others.”

The Sheriff also addressed the decrease of crime in the county.  Violent crimes in general are down by 11%, criminal homicide by 24%, rape reporting by 33%, property crime by 9%, as well as calls for service.  There were three COVID -19-related arrests and 41 citations issued since Sunday, March 29, 2020.

Personnel, of course, are also part of the communities we serve and reflect the numbers of those physically affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  There were 167 sworn and 83 professional staff quarantined, 61 of whom tested positive for the affliction, and 754 who returned to work.

The inmate population is vulnerable to the daily movement and fluctuations within it, and it is under constant, protective supervision to preserve balance.  The quarantine of inmates is still taking place, always on the side of caution.  Whenever someone is identified as displaying symptoms, the entire dormitory is quarantined.  This may cause numbers to fluctuate, however, it is conducted simply as a preventative measure.  So far, 2,563 inmates were quarantined and 71 were isolated to prevent the perpetuation of disease further, among both population and staff.  Of the 123 who tested positive, 31 are fully recovered.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Sheriff Alex Villanueva Provides LASD Status Update in the Face of COVID-19. 04/27/2020

PRESS CONFERENCE: Sheriff Alex Villanueva Provides LASD Status Update in the Face of COVID-19.04/27/2020

Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Monday, April 27, 2020
Sheriff Villanueva holding a press conference
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Sheriff Updates

Sheriff Alex Villanueva Provides Information and Updates Related to the Emergency Operations Center, COVID-19 Scams, and L.A. County Board Motion to Remove Him as Emergency Operations Director

Sheriff Alex Villanueva Provides Information and Updates Related to the Emergency Operations Center, COVID-19 Scams, and L.A. County Board Motion to Remove Him as Emergency Operations Director

Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Thursday, March 26, 2020
Undersheriff addresses Media
Undersheriff Hosts Media Briefing, 07/31/19 1024 422 SIB Staff

Undersheriff Hosts Media Briefing, 07/31/19

Undersheriff Tim Murakami Hosts Monthly Media Briefing

On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, Undersheriff Tim Murakami hosted the monthly press briefing. He announced the retirement of Assistant Sheriff Maria Gutierrez, who accepted an executive position at another law enforcement agency, which is unnamed at this time. During her 35 years in the law enforcement profession, Assistant Sheriff Gutierrez became recognized for her leadership performance and earned a stellar reputation. Her steadfastness led her to be the first female Hispanic in our agency’s 179-year history to hold the position of Assistant Sheriff. Undersheriff Murakami offered his congratulations and complimented her selection, “…it’s now evident that Sheriff Villanueva wasn’t the only one to recognize Sheriff Gutierrez’s boundless potential.”

The accolades continued as Undersheriff Murakami announced that the Emmy Award-winning Video Production Unit scored gold, once again. Their production of the public safety announcement “If They’re Not Secure, They’re Not Safe-Dresser Drawer” won them a second Emmy Award for Best Public Safety Announcement. Nominated were Sergeant Harry Drucker for Producer, and Video Production Specialist Vance Kotrla for Writer/Director. The piece is one of a four-part series which addresses the vital importance of safe gun storage; the decision to initiate such a production came after the tragic 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The PSA lasted only about a minute, but its impact was compelling and emotional.

The Video Production Unit, which falls under the umbrella of Training Bureau, is an in-house video production unit staffed by sworn and professional staff with experience in the television industry. They produce public service announcements, training films, and coordinate livestreaming and filming of ceremonial events, academy graduations and press conferences. Their first Emmy Award nomination came in 2016 for the “Surviving an Active Shooter” public service announcement video. The videos are available in English and Spanish, which is translated with the title “Pistolero Activo.”

The pieces were produced with no tax payer money other than salary of Video Production Unit personnel. Fundraising, and the donation of location sites and talents also help keep production costs low. As an example of this, the recently-released “Pistolero Activo,” was produced with the help of Spanish language newscasters, Romi DeFrias and Jovanny Huerta, who donated their time and talents to help with the voice overs and translation.

To view the English version, visit: https://lasd.org/active-shooter/
To view the Spanish version, visit: https://lasd.org/pistolero-activo/

Sheriff Villanueva speaking to media from podium.
Sheriff Villanueva, Media Briefing, 10/23/19 900 373 SIB Staff

Sheriff Villanueva, Media Briefing, 10/23/19

Sheriff Villanueva Holds Monthly Press Conference and Shares Statistics that Reflect Crime Reduction in Los Angeles County

On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, Sheriff Alex Villanueva opened his monthly press briefing with an acknowledgment of El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Ishmael, who was shot and killed in the line of duty earlier that morning while responding to a service call. Sheriff Villanueva sent thoughts and prayers to the fallen deputy’s family and his extended sheriff’s family. 
 
After apprising media of a deputy-involved shooting in Palmdale, which occurred just minutes before the press conference, Sheriff Villanueva continued with good news in the Department. He announced that in 2019, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) will have hired 370 more deputies than were hired in 2018. This increase is on track to seeing 1,070 deputies hired in 2019, with a plan for the same number in 2020. In doing this, the previous 15-year plan to be fully-staffed will be accomplished in just two years. 
 
Sheriff Villanueva introduced a group of future deputies who sat quietly in the audience. They will attend their first day at the training academy tomorrow, Thursday, October 24, 2019, and were a cross-section sample of current deputy sheriff trainees. Presently, sworn female personnel make up 18.2% of LASD; the goal is to increase that number to 21.5%. The national average is 12.6%, and LASD will be the first law enforcement agency in the nation to cross the 20% mark. Without lowering standards, the hiring process was streamlined and more resources made available to facilitate the hiring of deputies. The sheriff also emphasized that ours remains the most understaffed and underfunded law enforcement agency in the entire nation.
 
Sheriff Villanueva proudly announced that, without implementing new reforms and looking where implementation failed in the past, jail violence is down. In comparison to 2018:
There was an 11.5% decrease in the use of force incidents
There was a 20.5% decrease in assault on staff incidents
There was a 14.6% decrease on inmate vs. inmate assaults
 
Additionally, he provided an update of some other statistics related to the state of Los Angeles County and our agency:
Crime reduction in Los Angeles County is down by 6.79% overall, and homicides are down in just under 15%. 
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) transfers are down 53%. 
 
On a lighter note, Sheriff Villanueva reminded the audience that Halloween is around the corner and offered some tips for a safe trick-or-treating experience, including:
 
Use flashlights 
Walk in groups 
Wear bright colors 
Look before crossing the street 
Know your location 
Check the treats before eating them. Report any suspicious-looking treats to authorities

Downloadable Materials: Slides

Sheriff at new conference
Sheriff Villanueva Closes Out First Year in Office, 12/18/2019 900 450 SIB Staff

Sheriff Villanueva Closes Out First Year in Office, 12/18/2019

Sheriff Villanueva Closes Out First Year in Office

As 2019 draws to a close, Sheriff Alex Villanueva addressed some positive changes accompanied by statistics to close out his first year as top law enforcement officer of Los Angeles County. It was during a press conference on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, at the Hall of Justice that the Sheriff discussed the topics of violent crime, ICE transfers, jail violence, hiring, civic engagement, and homeless outreach services, which have all seen significant improvement in the last year.

In general, violent crimes are down, with homicides reduced by 15.15%; property crimes are also down, with burglaries reduced by 15.69%.

ICE transfers were cut by more than half, with a 53% reduction since 2018.

Jail violence saw a 1.02% uptick from 2018 in a daily average within the inmate population, however, the daily average within the mental health population fell 13.09%. Inmate-on-inmate assaults declined a whopping 33.34%, as did inmate assaults on staff by 27.56%. Uses of force in categories II and III also fell by 7.95%.

Citing an increased trust in law enforcement, a new approach to applicants and the hiring process, and raised standard of education background, the hiring of deputy sheriff applicants is at its highest level since 2015, with 20,122 applications received, as of Saturday, December 14, 2019. The number of deputy sheriff trainees hired is almost double the 2015 number, with a total of 1,062 -a staggering 65% increase from numbers seen in the preceding four years.

The Homeless Outreach Services Team saw 1,100 people connected to vital services at 392 locations found in both contract cities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. No uses of force were part of any of these contacts. To keep the success moving forward, the team was expanded from a six-person team of one lieutenant, one sergeant and four deputies, to a team of 15 with ten additional deputy positions.

Sheriff Villanueva realized his goal to make personal connections and have direct contact with our neighbors and business partners who live and conduct commerce in the areas the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department serves. Over the course of 12 months, he visited each station within our patrol jurisdiction in 27 town hall meetings to address residents and hear their concerns.

Downloadable Material: Talking Points and Slides

Sheriff Villanueva at press conference
Sheriff Villanueva, Media Briefing Event, 01/22/20 1024 510 SIB Staff

Sheriff Villanueva, Media Briefing Event, 01/22/20

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:

Sheriff Villanueva holds Press Conference about school shooting threat 1024 512 SIB Staff

Sheriff Villanueva holds Press Conference about school shooting threat

SHERIFF VILLANUEVA HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE ABOUT SCHOOL SHOOTING THREAT

On Thursday November 21, 2019, LASD Century Station personnel responded to a school shooting threat against students at Animo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School.  The threat alleged a student was going to shoot other students at the school on Friday, November 22, 2019.  Multiple students overheard the threat and immediately told their teachers.  The teachers immediately emailed the school administration, who then called the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Century Station. 

Deputies immediately initiated an investigation and conducted interviews to gather more information.  The investigation led them to the subject, a 13 year old male, who allegedly made the threat.  Through investigative methods, the subject’s address was located and search warrants were authored for the residence.  During the execution of the warrant, a rifle with a high capacity magazine was seized along with ammunition.  The subject had in his possession a rudimentary hand drawn map of the school, as well as a list containing names. Additionally, a 19 year old male suspect, who is a relative of the subject, was arrested for possession of an unregistered firearm and is being held on $35,000 bail.

The Sheriff encourages Los Angeles County residents that if that if they see or hear something to say something. We have Detectives from local station who are working with School Resource Officers, Crime Analysts as well our Major Crimes Bureau Detectives who monitor the web on a constant bases to ensure the safety and security of all of our schools.  We take all threats against schools in our jurisdiction very seriously.  In these unpredictable situations, preparation is key. Please visit our page and watch our videos at www.activeshooter.lasd.org

Link to Press Conference:  https://bit.ly/2KKoZpp