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sheriffs-statement

Truth about LASD 680 380 SIB Staff

Truth about LASD

THE TRUTH ABOUT LASD
October 16, 2020

On December 3, 2018, I was sworn into office on a promise to Reform, Rebuild, and Restore the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  After twenty-two months, one pandemic, civil unrest, an openly hostile board of supervisors, and dishonest LA Times coverage, I can report that we have done exactly that: reform a massive operation where previous sheriffs failed.

ICE has been removed from the jails, patrol stations, and courthouses.  There is a permanent moratorium on all transfers of undocumented inmates to ICE custody.  Federal SCAAP grant funds, previously taken in exchange for selling out the undocumented inmate database, have been summarily rejected.  These milestones alone set me apart from my predecessors, but we didn’t stop there.

Body-worn cameras are now here to stay.  We created a financially feasible program, lobbied hard for its funding, and are now deploying the cameras in the field.  This was my commitment during the campaign and a cornerstone of the LASD’s transparency promise, which now puts all legally permissible information directly in the hands of the community.  The department’s website, lasd.org, now has all information previously hidden from the public’s view, including data on deputy-involved shootings, discipline, conditions of confinement in the jail system, and the impact of COVID-19, along with the entire organization’s rules and regulations.

In a bold departure from past practice, all deputy-involved shootings are thoroughly debriefed and made public at the earliest possible stage of the investigation, including video and physical evidence.  Even during these tragic events, the department reaches out and engages the families involved, along with local civic and religious leaders.  In an effort to ensure the department is a reflection of the community, I banned all out of state recruitment, focusing instead on recruiting and hiring from our own communities.

My efforts at diversity did not end at the entry-level, that was just the beginning.  We’ve redone the entire process to select station commanders, giving civic leaders a major role in the selection process.   All deputies are now required to serve a minimum of four years in their first patrol assignment before being eligible to promote or transfer, cementing my commitment to community policing and changing the culture of the LASD from an enforcement model to an engagement model.  This is a major shift in law enforcement thinking, where the old warrior mindset is now giving way to a focus on community engagement and collaborative problem-solving.

The LASD’s good ole’ boys network is officially DEAD.  I promoted the first two Latinas to the position of Assistant Sheriff and had both serving at the same time.  There are now four female division chiefs, another first, and for the first time in the history of the department, the leadership ranks are now a truly accurate reflection of the rich diversity of our community.  In 2019 alone, I hired over 1,100 deputy sheriff trainees, a huge turnaround for a recruitment and hiring effort that was dead in the water under my predecessor’s administration.  On January 1, 2020, the minimum education standard to apply to become a deputy sheriff will be raised to an Associate’s Degree, the first time this standard has ever been raised.

Before the pandemic struck in March, we took the initiative in February and started a deliberate effort to decompress the nation’s largest jail system.  Working in collaboration with all the criminal justice partners, we released five thousand inmates over the span of the next three months, and in the process established a template for the entire nation to follow.  As a direct result of our aggressive efforts in fighting the COVID-19 threat, we saw only a handful of fatalities and a small positivity rate, all the more remarkable considering the sheer size of our system.

The issue of deputy cliques has long befuddled my predecessors, with reports of misconduct by members of these subgroups stretching back fifty years.  As the first and only sheriff to hold employees accountable for participating in these harmful groups, I implemented a policy that bans their formation and participation in activities that harm the public or their fellow employees.  After transferring dozens of employees, I completed both criminal and administrative investigations that led to the suspension or termination of twenty-six department members.  To date, 68 employees have been terminated, and another 60 internal criminal investigations have resulted in 15 employees being charged by the District Attorney’s Office, based on our own investigations – accountability at its core.

There have been unprecedented challenges, from the tragedy of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others in Calabasas.  I created a new policy that protects the dignity of the deceased at crash sites, and sponsored AB 2655, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom last month.  This legislation makes it a crime to take photos of the deceased from accident sites without an authorized purpose. 

We have experienced the tragic Saugus High School shooting, several controversial deputy-involved shootings, and the horrific ambush of our two deputies at the Compton Pax, which captured the attention of the nation due to the heroic efforts of our deputies in overcoming adversity.  In all of these challenges, we rose to the occasion as a team.

The civil unrest that followed the senseless murder of George Floyd resulted in widespread arson, looting, and vandalism across Los Angeles County, but damage was conspicuously absent from all areas patrolled by deputy sheriffs.  This was not by chance.  While protecting the rights of peaceful protestors to assemble and march, we were able to identify and detain those who were using the protests as a cover for riotous actions.

In closing, I will say to those members of the political establishment who wish to lead the charge and demand my resignation, let’s start working together to build a brighter future for all.  To that end, I will continue to maintain laser-focused on serving the community and would love to be joined by the Board of Supervisors in better serving our communities.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva

If you want to share your voice with the BOS regarding the Sheriff’s promise to rebuild the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, you can contact them at:
http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/lac/1031546_BoardContactInformation.pdf

PEACEFUL PROTESTS OF SOLIDARITY 680 380 SIB Staff

PEACEFUL PROTESTS OF SOLIDARITY

PEACEFUL PROTESTS OF SOLIDARITY

October 16,2020

“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is monitoring the violence unfolding between Azerbaijan and Armenia which, while, 7,200 miles away from Los Angeles, is of extreme and immediate importance to so many within our community. We hear you and we understand.

In fact, Los Angeles County is home to more people of Armenian descent than anywhere in the world outside of Armenia itself.

We witness, denounce and condemn the violence and attacks occurring upon civilians in Artsakh. 

We welcome peaceful protests of solidarity here in Los Angeles and stand with you in our shared demand for peace.

MAX HUNTSMAN OMITS THE FACTS ONCE AGAIN 680 380 SIB Staff

MAX HUNTSMAN OMITS THE FACTS ONCE AGAIN

MAX HUNTSMAN OMITS THE FACTS ONCE AGAIN

October 5, 2020

Today, I learned of the latest Office of Inspector General (OIG) report.  Conspicuously absent from the report is the fact the OIG had multiple opportunities to address the “Banditos” issue during the four years under my predecessor but chose to remain silent.  This is because his job as a political appointee is to do whatever the Board instructs him to do.  Mr. Huntsman now claims the past is the present, while willfully omitting all of the progress which has been made.  His actions are purely politically driven and an attempt to undermine the reputation of the Department.

The report alleges investigators did not conduct a thorough investigation into the Kennedy Hall deputy on deputy fight.  This is false.  Both criminal and administrative investigations were conducted where investigators interviewed over 70 involved parties and witnesses in the case.  In addition, this case was submitted to the District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division (JSID) for their review and their office concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The facts are that immediately after taking office, I relieved the East Los Angeles Station captain of his command, overhauled the entire leadership of the station, and transferred 36 personnel.  In February of 2020, I became the first and only sheriff to successfully implement a policy specifically addressing employee groups which violate the rights of other employees or members of the public.

On August 13, 2020, at the conclusion of the Kennedy Hall fight between deputies investigation, I held a press conference to publish the results of the investigation for the public.  Twenty-six deputies involved in that early morning fight were either suspended or terminated.  As has become his pattern, Mr. Huntsman seems to have once again intentionally omitted facts which do not further his political agenda. 

Please view our August 13, 2020, press conference: 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva

If you want to share your voice with the BOS regarding the steps that the Sheriff has taken to hold employees accountable for their actions, you can contact them at:
http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/lac/1031546_BoardContactInformation.pdf

WAS THE CEO GIVEN A $1.5M GOLDEN HANDSHAKE 680 380 SIB Staff

WAS THE CEO GIVEN A $1.5M GOLDEN HANDSHAKE

WAS THE CEO GIVEN A $1.5M GOLDEN HANDSHAKE?
August 27, 2020

On August 26, 2020, I became aware of a demand letter written on behalf of County of Los Angeles CEO, Sachi Hamai, by her attorney Skip Miller (who also represents the Board of Supervisors in multiple ongoing matters). The anonymous letter outlined a proposed settlement in the amount of $1.5 million to be paid to Sachi Hamai upon her departure as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The reason for the settlement was described as “combat pay” resulting from a valid and legitimate policy disagreement during a department head conference call with more than 40 other people listening. As described, this act constituted the appearance of a possible “gift of public funds.” This, compounded with the optics of corruption created from the process allegedly occurring behind closed doors and outside of the public eye, compelled me to immediately forward the information to the appropriate oversight entities.


Every taxpayer in Los Angeles County should be infuriated upon hearing the CEO is getting $1.5M handed to her and demand the following questions be answered:


• How is it not a conflict of interest for County contract attorney Skip Miller to have represented both the CEO and the Board in the same transaction?
•Was an initial complaint ever filed by the CEO putting the Board on notice of this alleged “hostile work environment?” Were the proper channels followed for reporting and investigation? What was the outcome of the investigation?
•Was an actual “Claim for Damages” ever filled by the CEO?
•Was an actual lawsuit ever filed by the CEO?
•Over the last 30 years, how many $1.5M+ settlements were awarded by the Board, based on an unproven allegation and zero litigation or Court action?
•Some would describe this as a backdoor way to give someone a “golden handshake” after they leave their position. Has this ever happened for other similar allegations? What proof exists to justify $1.5M?
•In addition to the $1.5M, the CEO has also demanded to receive full-time security for the next few years; how much will this cost taxpayers and what does that entail?


This news comes during a time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other County Departments are facing major budget cuts that will result in huge layoffs.


I have vocally opposed the CEO’s actions because she has underfunded our budget, defunded our Department, and is presently recommending the layoff of 745 public safety employees. Yet I am rejecting the CEO’s plan, as I know there are other options which do not result in layoffs. As Sheriff, I was elected to fight for what is right, not for what is politically favorable.


Our Department is currently dealing with managing a catastrophic budget reduction and may face future layoffs. This is being done while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, fires throughout LA County, an increased murder rate, and on-going civil unrest.


Settling CEO Hamai’s allegations without a legitimate inquiry, bypassing standard procedure, gives the appearance of an illegal gift of public funds. A possible gift for someone who last year earned $684,704 in salary and benefits. A possible gift for someone whose early retirement is occurring far before the optimal retirement age.


The County should have allowed CEO Hamai’s case to run its course in a court of law, in order for the public to have learned about the facts of the case, just like they have in the past and will continue to do so in the future.


This appears to be a gross mismanagement of tax payer dollars during a pandemic where millions of Southern Californians are struggling to pay their rent, keep their healthcare insurance, maintain a job, and more importantly survive the COVID-19 pandemic. We should be working together to find ways to better serve the citizens of Los Angeles County and not allowing cuts to law enforcement that will damage the service and security to the citizens for years to come.


Sheriff Alex Villanueva


SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT EVICTIONS PROTOCOL 680 380 SIB Staff

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT EVICTIONS PROTOCOL

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT EVICTIONS PROTOCOL DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC August 19, 2020

As Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I am responsible for public safety while enforcing the laws of this state.  Effective March 4, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom issued both an Eviction Moratorium for individuals financially affected by this pandemic as well as a Stay at Home Order for all but essential workers.  As such, the Sheriff’s Department temporarily suspended serving all evictions, so as not to displace people while the Stay at Home Order was in place.

In May 2020, Governor Newsom began to ease stay at home restrictions throughout the state.  Now that the Stay at Home Order has ended and has not been re-instated, we are moving forward with the enforcement of evictions issued prior to the COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium.

Currently, the Sheriff’s Department is only serving evictions that were ordered by the court prior to March 4, 2020.  The Sheriff’s Department will not be serving any COVID-19 related evictions absent an ex-parte order.  In the near future, I plan to meet with Los Angeles County Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile to discuss evictions.  This issue is of grave concern to me because we must balance the enforcement of orders of the court without contributing to the spread of the COVID-19 virus through increased homelessness.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Sheriff Announces Permanent Ban on ICE Transfers 680 380 SIB Staff

Sheriff Announces Permanent Ban on ICE Transfers

Sheriff Announces Permanent Ban on ICE Transfers

There is no greater threat to public safety than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report crime, out of fear of deportation and having their families torn apart. As the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I am responsible for everyone’s public safety, regardless of immigration status. I will not allow an entire segment of the population to be afraid to report crimes to law enforcement and be forced, again, back into the shadows.

On April 24, 2020, I placed a moratorium on transfers of qualified inmates from the nation’s largest jail system to ICE during the COVID-19 pandemic. After learning of the pending litigation regarding the conditions in the Adelanto/ICE detention facility and allegations of similar conditions at other ICE facilities, the moratorium will now be permanent and we will no longer transfer individuals to the custody of ICE based solely on a civil immigration detainer. In so doing, we have created a bright line between federal immigration enforcement and local law enforcement in the most populous County in the nation.

This permanent ban was preceded by my categorical rejection of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) grant that essentially sold our undocumented inmate data base information for federal funds. This morally indefensible program netted $122 million dollars for Los Angeles County from 2005 to 2018, at the expense of our immigrant community.

We will encourage ICE to use the constitutionally sound judicial warrant system, used by all other law enforcement agencies in the nation, to effect legal transfers from Los Angeles County to federal custody. The Sheriff’s Department will also continue its work with the District Attorney’s Office by providing the required assurances requested by ICE to ensure that those who have fled to other countries to avoid prosecution will return and stand trial. Violent criminals who prey on our law-abiding communities should be held fully accountable.

DEFUNDING THE LASD BUDGET 145.4M Dollars 680 380 SIB Staff

DEFUNDING THE LASD BUDGET 145.4M Dollars

DEFUNDING THE LASD BUDGET $145.4M

June 27, 2020

The budget cuts announced by county CEO Sachi Hamai are targeted specifically to hurt public safety in
Los Angeles County, while sparing virtually every other function of county government from any reductions.
The CEO’s recommended budget for the LASD from May was $3.5 billion, a shortfall of $400 million from
the true cost of running the largest sheriff’s department in the nation. As we have been busy reorganizing
around the first massive reduction, the Board of Supervisors are now set to force the community to suffer a
major loss of law enforcement resources with a second round of cuts to the tune of $145.4 million. This is
literally balancing the entire county budget on the back of the LASD.

Half of the LASD’s budget is offset by revenue from contracts that provide law enforcement services to 42
contract cities, the Los Angeles Superior Court system, the Los Angeles Community College District, the
Metropolitan Transit Authority, and other contracts. The other half is what is known as “Net County Cost” or
NCC, and that is the cost of providing patrol to the 131 unincorporated communities throughout the county,
running the nation’s largest jail system, and the specialized detective units who serve the entire county such
as Homicide Bureau, Special Victim’s Bureau, Major Crimes Bureau, Safe Streets Bureau, and Fraud and
Cyber Crimes Bureau.

The CEO’s proposed budget recommends the following LASD units be eliminated:

• Safe Streets Bureau (Gang Enforcement)
• Parks Bureau
• Special Victims Bureau (Sexual/Physical Abuse of Children, Rape, Human Trafficking)
• Community Partnership Bureau (COPS Team)
• Fraud & Cybercrimes Bureau
• Major Crimes Bureau

The CEO also recommends drastically reducing the following units:

• Custody Operations (various units)
• Mental Health Evaluation Teams (MET)

The CEO and the Board have embraced the “Defund the Police” movement and are cynically hiding behind
accounting maneuvers, knowing well that loss of revenue in sales tax can be made up by equitably
distributing more stable revenue streams like property taxes. This is not acceptable and a willful
abandonment of one of the top priorities of all local government: keeping people safe.

These cuts come at a time when jails were de-populated of over five thousand inmates in order to combat
the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that restrictions are lifting, violent crimes, such as murder, are on the rise
across the County and other metropolitan areas such as New York City and Chicago. Now is not the time to
cut vital law enforcement services, that should be the last thing cut. Curiously, the bloated county
bureaucracy remains virtually intact, which should always be the first to suffer reductions. The priorities of
the Board of Supervisors are not the priorities of the good people of Los Angeles County.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Graphic of Sheriff Villanueva next to Hall Of Justice
SB 1421 Compliance 1024 249 SIB Staff

SB 1421 Compliance

SB 1421 Compliance

Under my leadership, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is more transparent than ever before. With greater transparency comes greater accountability. One area this has been demonstrated is our cooperation with the Citizen Oversight Commission (COC) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

In anticipation of the colossal amount of requests for records prior to the bills enactment on January 1, 2019, we requested funding from the Board of Supervisors for additional personnel and computer software to address the added workload created by the SB 1421 mandate. To date, our requests have been ignored.

In November 2019, I reorganized the Audit and Accountability Bureau (AAB), on a temporary basis, in order to dedicate resources to the SB 1421 project. We also implemented a tracking system specifically for COC and OIG requests, to ensure a timely response.

In the calendar year of 2019, the Department responded to 43 known requests from the COC and OIG. From January 1, 2020 to May 1, 2020, the Department has responded to 59 of the 62 requests made by the COC and OIG.

Since November 2019, AAB has received a total of 2,848 requests for review. As of June 11, 2020, AAB has responded to 75% of the requests.

The true goals and values of government can be found in how the budget is allocated. If something is deemed important, the Board of Supervisors has the responsibility and obligation to fully fund it. Due to our limited staffing and our lack of SB 1421 specified funding, the fulfillment of SB 1421 compliance has been difficult. We will continue to do the best we can with what we have in place.

Please visit LASD.org to explore my transparency promise.

If you want to share your voice with the BOS regarding the Sheriff’s compliance with SB 1421, you can contact them at:
http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/lac/1031546_BoardContactInformation.pdf

Sheriff addresses Social Media videos 680 380 SIB Staff

Sheriff addresses Social Media videos

SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEOSJune 3, 2020

I am aware of two videos circulating on social media involving my deputies. As with all use of force incidents, these cases will be thoroughly investigated, and we will also examine the tactics, policies & procedures.

As I have stated before, this is another example of why we so desperately need the Board of Supervisors to fully fund the LASD body-worn camera project.  The public deserves full transparency.

Graphic of Sheriff Villanueva next to Hall Of Justice
Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s Message to the Troops 1024 249 SIB Staff

Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s Message to the Troops

Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s Message to the Troops

This is Sheriff Villanueva. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all residents and businesses in Los Angeles County. As incidents of looting are reported anywhere in our county, we will respond and assist local police departments. We will also take proactive action and deploy anywhere in the county where violence is taking afoot, protect lawfully assembled protesters, and use your discretion in enforcing the law where needed.

Be safe out there, Car-1 signing off.

Sheriff Composing a message to the troops on a computer
Sheriff composing a message to the troops from the ops center.