LA COUNTY SHERIFF ENDORSEMENT
Sheriff Alex Villanueva:
Our choice for a second term
Eight candidates sought to take Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s job in the June primary—most from within the department. But after the dust cleared, the incumbent sheriff was one of two candidates remaining.
Sheriff Villanueva is the Compton Herald’s choice for a second 4-year term for a number of reasons. We don’t believe in swapping county sheriffs every four years. The stakes are too high for a “green horn” to take the reins of such a massive operation. We advocate a minimum of two terms to enable the sheriff to enact reforms, new policies, and prune the department of errant deputies.
LASD is the largest sheriff's department in the United States and the fourth largest local police agency in the US, following the New York Police Department, Chicago Police Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department. LASD has just over 18,000 sworn employees, down 2300 personnel or 30 percent due to a pandemic hiring freeze.
Villanueva is truly saturated in the ways and means of the sheriff’s department, working up the ranks from deputy to sergeant, then lieutenant over 31 years, prior to election to a four-year term as titular head of the LASD in 2018.
Atop the sheriff’s agenda are policies that augment homeless prevention and the interdiction of violent crime.
The department's primary responsibilities are to provide municipal police services within the county, courthouse security for the Superior Court, and housing and transportation services of inmates within the county jail system.
The LASD also contracts with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metrolink, provides municipal law enforcement services to the unincorporated communities and 42 of 88 cities within the county, provides law enforcement services to 10 community colleges, and patrols county parks, golf courses, special event venues, lakes, hospitals, and county facilities.
LASD also provides services such as crime laboratories, homicide investigations, and academy training to smaller law enforcement agencies within the county and across the State of California.
A law enforcement agency with this multiplicity of responsibilities is going to suffer problems. But that’s where Villanueva seeks to incorporate reforms.
Under Villanueva, LASD has built the most diverse department to date with a command staff that is 83 percent female or people of color, while his opponent, retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna has failed to promote a single Black female during his 20+ years as a law enforcement executive—including seven years as chief, and has virtually no support from law enforcement unions.
Reform requires more than one term. Dismantling, then instituting new policies makes more sense as doable over two terms, rather than one.
Running on a campaign platform of "reform, rebuild and restore," Sheriff Villanueva, in his first term, began to immediately address challenges within the department that plagued it for so many years under previous administrations.
The Sheriff wasted no time in tackling these problems, such as instituting policies that ban deputy "gangs," equipping all deputies with body-worn cameras, banning transfers to ICE and raising standards which helped diversify the leadership within the department (such as raising standards for internal promotions, new hires and senior command staff).
Along with creating the most diverse senior command, Sheriff Villanueva’s actions resulted in a dramatic reduction in use of force lawsuits against the department between 2018 and 2022.
The sheriff amassed a wide range of donations from a broad range of grassroots support across LA County. The support from every day Angelinos confirms Villanueva remains the top choice for the job. He looks forward to continuing reforms to improve the County of Los Angeles in his second term.
To date, Sheriff Villanueva has conducted 104 town halls with members of the community and listened to their direct concerns—which focus primarily on public safety-reducing crime and helping end the homeless crisis. His plan is to buoy this service with the expansion of comm- unity advisory councils like cultural, interfaith, business and LGBTQ+, inroads the sheriff wants to both implement and expand.
Compton Herald stands firm that Sheriff Alex Villanueva remains the best choice to command and manage the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
He has been joined by overwhelming support from the law enforcement community with a long list of public safety unions endorsing his campaign, including:
I’m with each and every one of you
By ALEX VILLANUEVA
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón recently affirmed what embattled LA City Councilmember Kevin de Leon accused him of when Gascón retorted, "Yes, I am with the Blacks."
T-shirts are now popping up across LA. I have only one issue with Gascón's virtue signaling—what about the rest of the community? As we near the election Nov. 8, I want to state very clearly—"I’m with everybody."
I have dedicated my life to public service. In our military, our national guard, and with our sheriff’s department. My sworn duty was to serve you, each and every one of you. It is challenging to do this in a county as divided as Los Angeles. Especially when corrupt politicians draw wedges between us.
Public service is an idea that has fallen into disregard. It is too simple to say, as Sheriff of LA County, my job is to serve everyone. As a deputy I believed each Angelino is coming from a different place. To serve them, I needed to understand their lives.
That’s why I get the Venice beach coffee shop owner concerned about the homeless living at the entrance to his life’s work. That’s why I get the African American senior walking in South Central praying the next genera- tion stays out of gangs. That’s why I get the young Latina riding the bus home from school too afraid to close her eyes and rest.
This idea of public service is at the heart of community policing. It is what I have believed in since the early 1990s when I volunteered for the first community patrol under then President Clinton’s COPS program. And it has been the idea with which I ran for sheriff four years ago, and the reform agenda I have implemented as sheriff.
Our department needed reform. We reformed it. Body-worn cameras, ICE out of jails, taking action on deputy cliques, and hiring locally, and promoting without bias. The Long Beach Police Department also needed reform. Yet, Long Beach police remain a relic from a bygone era. In a city as diverse as Long Beach, they just promoted their first African American women into command staff. Shame on Robert Luna, his predecessors, and city leadership—all of them!
There is more to the story of the Long Beach Police Department than mere numbers. Here are the seldom told stories LA County voters need to hear about. You ask me, who am I with… .
I am with the gay men who were targeted in sting operations by Robert Luna’s department. In 2016, a Calif- ornia judged rebuked the department for its discriminatory actions.
I am with Galen Ball, who was coming home from a prayer meeting. The police stopped him, beat him without mercy. The D.A. did not indict the officers. A civil court did years later awarding Galen’s family $650,000 for his suffering.
I am with Faustino Rodriguez. He was likely a drug dealer. But he still had rights. And the Long Beach police betrayed those rights incompetently serving a search warrant. They shot him dead, apparently, through a closed door.
I am with Michael Colbert and all the African American officers of the Long Beach Police Department who were humiliated by the old guard of White officers and commanders. Michael, as he neared retirement as a helicop- ter pilot, was reminded with "banana peels" and racist drawings that his decades of hard work was not appre- ciated.
And who was Robert Luna with?
● Luna never instituted written policies on the treatment of LGBTQ+ people.
● Luna was one of Galen Ball’s arresting officers. The records of Ball’s beating have been shredded.
● Luna was one of the officers who shot into a closed door, leaving Faustino Rodriguez dead. I reviewed the police reports myself. I felt sick to my stomach.
● And Luna, as deputy chief and as chief, has done nothing to take on anti-Black hatred at the Long Beach Police Department.
As voters go to the polls on Nov. 8, they will hear and see the ads that the entire political establishment and corporate media is with my opponent. Virtually every Democratic state senator and assembly member, every Democratic County supervisor, and city councilmembers along with nearly every Democratic member of Con- gress,, as well as tons of Labor and social justice non-profit middle class bureaucrats, all stand with Luna.
In short, the status quo aka those that allowed crime to rise and drug addicts, rapists, arsonists and petty crim- inals to take away far too many parks, beaches, sidewalks, and contaminate the California dream. If the
political elite and media are with Luna and Gascón, I can live with that. I’ll take the hard-working voters and residents of LA County on my side.