Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Oversight Commission to Consider Resolution Condemning Villanueva's Leadership

LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva has dismissed criticism from the commission, calling its members political pawns of the Board of Supervisors, with whom the sheriff has repeatedly clashed on budget and other issues.

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One month after some members called on Alex Villanueva to resign, the county's Civilian Oversight Commission on Thursday is scheduled to consider a resolution condemning the sheriff's leadership and vowing to hold him accountable if he continues to "facilitate dysfunction" in the agency.

Villanueva has dismissed criticism from the commission, calling its members political pawns of the Board of Supervisors, with whom the sheriff has repeatedly clashed on budget and other issues.

The sheriff on Wednesday suggested that the county have an "elected oversight commission," saying the current makeup of the panel is "political appointees" of the board, "and they act like it."

"Their political philosophies are they really, really hate cops or they slightly hate cops or they're not too sure," Villanueva said.

The resolution being considered by the commission Thursday outlines a series of disputes between the panel and Villanueva, concluding that he "enables a culture within the sheriff's department of deputy impunity, disregards the constitutional rights of Los Angeles County residents, disdains other elected officials and disrespects the will of voters who support robust civilian oversight."

The document states that the commission "remains committed to implementing constructive reforms in collaboration with Sheriff Villanueva and wishes to see Sheriff Villanueva's success in rebuilding the sheriff's department."

In concludes, however, that "should Sheriff Villanueva continue to facilitate dysfunction in the sheriff's department and fail to participate in the meaningful oversight efforts of his agency, the commission will use all of the tools provided by the board and by the voters of Los Angeles County to ensure transparency, enact reform and to hold Sheriff Villanueva accountable."

During its meeting in September, at least two members of the commission called on Villanueva to resign as sheriff.

"It's with great reluctance that I'm calling for Sheriff (Alex) Villanueva to resign," said commission member Robert Bonner, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department itself deserves better. The men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deserve better."

Bonner criticized Villanueva for failing to build a working relationship with the county Board of Supervisors, saying he has "gone out of his way to alienate and insult supervisors."

Patti Giggans, chair of the commission, echoed Bonner's sentiment, saying, "The sheriff's department does not have the leader it deserves."

Villanueva last month brushed aside the comments.

"They're just part of the echo chamber of the board," the sheriff said. "And unfortunately, the route they take is not one that's going to engender goodwill … between myself or the organization, because there's a fine line being a watchdog and an attack dog, a political attack dog. And that's pretty much the line they've crossed, along with (Inspector General) Max Huntsman. In fact, they crossed that line a long time ago, this is just the latest example of that."

"I'm just going to ignore it and move on," he said. "I'm going to continue serving the community, and I just have to set that aside."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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