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public safety

Sheriff Alex Villanueva is standing behind a wooden Podium and is pointing off to the right to a screen.
Sheriff Villanueva Addresses Public Safety Concerns at LA Metro 1024 573 SIB Staff

Sheriff Villanueva Addresses Public Safety Concerns at LA Metro

Public Safety Concerns Regarding LA Metro Policing Services

On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Chief Gene Harris from the Los Angeles County Police Chief’s Association, along with Special Operations Division Chief Jack Ewell and Transit Services Bureau Captain Shawn Kehoe, held a press conference to address public safety concerns for LA Metro and the pending vote to significantly alter dedicated law enforcement services as we know them.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is contracted to provide police services for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to areas within Los Angeles County. As part of a transit policing team, LASD works with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) and Metro Security Services, to ensure the safety of transit riding patrons and Metro employees. The LASD Transit Services Bureau (TSB) is comprised of over 300 personnel, including personnel specially trained to handle: transit patrol services, transit mental evaluation, transit homeless services, explosive detection, canines, transit special assignments, transit investigations, transit dispatch, and transit support. All of these components are essential for the safety of public transportation users.

On June 18, 2020, on a motion by Metro Board of Directors Bonin, Garcetti, Hahn, Dupont-Walker, and Solis, authorized the creation of the “Public Safety Advisory Committee.” This committee developed a new scope of services, budget, and other provisions for the multi-agency police contract renewal.

On November 3, 2021 this official paid advisory committee voted, 14 to zero, to recommend abolishing all three policing contracts, shifting the burden of policing to local agencies and using the $75 million to fund undefined alternatives such as non-profits and yet-to-be developed Metro Ambassadors. The recommendation from this newly-created committee will be considered by the Metro Board of Directors on November 18, at their “Operations, Safety, and Customer Experience” committee meeting, and on December 2, by the full MTA Board of Directors.

“If we’re re-imagining things without any input, any serious consideration for what the outcomes could be, then what we might as well start doing is imagining of the carnage that it’s going to ensue. The chaos that’s going to happen when we don’t have law enforcement officials to address the situations we just heard,” said Chief Gene Harris.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019 over 370 million people rode Metro, an average of over one million riders a day. Post pandemic, over 200 million riders per year used the metro. Although there was a reduction of riders due to the pandemic, crime remained

constant. In the past three years, there have been 6 murders, 26 rapes, and 1,450 robberies or assaults on the Metro. The statistics show the need to increase the number of law enforcement officers, not abolish them.

Sheriff Villanueva planned to show a video clip with a compilation of crimes that occurred on the transit system but Stephanie Wiggins, Metro’s CEO, refused to consent to the release of the videos because it would harm public trust in the Metro system and it would also constitute a breach of contract between Metro and the Sheriff’s Department. Instead, Sheriff Villanueva described the eight violent crimes.

“We need to take these matters seriously because lives are at stake, lives are being endangered on the system and that callous disregard for the safety of the passengers is alarming and I think every single member of the MTA Board of Directors needs to be held accountable,” said Sheriff Villanueva.

Ultimately, voting to defund police services for LA Metro will hurt public safety, especially for those community members who have no other choice but to rely on public transportation.

Press Conference Video

Material Used During the Press Conference

Powerpoint – PDF
Part 1 Crimes 2019-2021 – PDF

Videos of Crimes Occurring on the Transit Systems – PDF
Transit Agency 4 Year Comparison – PDF
Defund Movement – PDF
MTA Crisis Letter to Supervisor Solis from Capt. Kehoe – PDF
LACPCA Letter to Supervisor Solis – PDF

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.
IMMINENT THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY 1024 249 SIB Staff

IMMINENT THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY

IMMINENT THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY

October 28, 2021

As homicides continued to rise, the Board of Supervisors voted to require all Los Angeles County employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face discipline, up to and including termination. 

The Board’s vaccination mandate is causing a mass exodus within the Department, which is an absolutely absurd result.  I have repeatedly stated the dangers to public safety when 20%-30% of my workforce is no longer available to provide service, and those dangers are quickly becoming a reality.  We are experiencing an increase in unscheduled retirements, worker compensation claims, employees quitting, and a reduction in qualified applicants.  As a result, homicide rates will continue to rise, response times will increase, solve rates will diminish, arrests will decline, patrol services will significantly decline, and patrol stations will close. 

A large part of our workforce who is close to retirement finds it easier to simply retire, than be forced into a decision which should be a personal choice.  Other personnel who were called “heroes” for diligently working in service to the community during the pandemic, while other professions stayed home, have decided to finally get those surgeries they have been putting off for injuries sustained throughout their careers (knees, shoulders, back, etc.). 

This unintended consequence to public safety was predictable.  In the near future, unless something changes, the “defunded” and “de-staffed” Sheriff’s Department will no longer be able to sustain the staffing levels required to maintain public safety at the status quo.

My personnel already wear masks and would submit to routine COVID-19 testing, so termination makes no sense. 

Personally, I am vaccinated and believe the vaccine works, but the choice to receive the vaccine is a personal one, and an individual who served the community tirelessly before there was a vaccine should not now be fired because they made a decision about their own body.

If you have an opinion on this matter, please call the Board of Supervisors and voice it.  With the pandemic diminishing, there is no justification for the Board mandate; it is like putting up the storm windows after the storm has passed. 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva

See my Response letter regarding the matter here.

Voice your concerns with your district supervisor

Name and numbers of the Board of supervisors.
Sheriff Villanueva speaking at a podium surrounded by Consulates from the Asian and Pacific Island nations of LA County
Zero Tolerance For Hate Crimes In Los Angeles County 800 408 SIB Staff

Zero Tolerance For Hate Crimes In Los Angeles County

Press Conference: Sheriff Villanueva, Along With Local Asian Community Groups, Call For Zero Tolerance For Any Hate Crimes And Incidents In Los Angeles County

On Thursday, March 25, 2021, Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference in front of the Hall of Justice to announce his support for the Asian community.  He was joined by; Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles, Akira Muto; Honorary Consul General of Cambodia in Los Angeles, Mr. Kim Chha Hout; Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Los Angeles, Kyung Jae Park; Mayor of Monterey Park, Yvonne Yin; Mayor of San Gabriel, Chin Ho Liao, the support of Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, Zhang Ping, the Sheriff’s Community Advisory Counciland other highly respected community leaders.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in hate crimes against the Asian-American community. The fatal shooting of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, is the latest attack against Asian-Americans, and it shook the nation. Unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident. On Sunday, March 21, 2021, a man disrupted a ‘Stop Asian Hate’ protest in Diamond Bar by driving through a group of protesters while hurling insults against China.

Sheriff Villanueva called for zero tolerance for hate crimes in Los Angeles County, especially towards Asian Americans. He urged people to report crime by calling 911 if it is an emergency, contacting a local law enforcement agency, or remaining anonymous by calling LA Crime Stoppers at 800-222 or by visiting lacrimestoppers.org.

Undersheriff Tim Murakami talked about his experience as a 4th generation Asian-American. He explained that historically, the Asian community has been very quiet. For the most part, they accept things, overlook them and move on. He urged the community to stand up as a group and realize “they’re Americans, they have the right to be here, they have the right to be respected and the right to be protected.”

Sheriff Villanueva reminded everyone that everyone is looking for the same things in life, security and a sense of belonging at the end of the day. “If you’re a recent arrival or you’ve been here for generations, all of you are welcome in Los Angeles County. We welcome you in this great nation of us,” he concluded.