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Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has only been on the job since 2018, is facing several calls for resignation. They come from County supervisors, activists, City Council members and, most recently, the entire Civilian Oversight Commission.
On Wednesday, L.A. County’s Civilian Oversight Commission unanimously approved a resolution stating they had “no confidence” in Villanueva’s leadership, calling on him to resign immediately.
While the resolution does give Villanueva credit for enacting some reforms, including a ban on Immigration and Customs Enforcement transfers and a policy prohibiting deputy gangs, it notes that those achievements are overshadowed by his “failure to adequately lead the Sheriff’s Department, his efforts to block meaningful reform and his refusal to participate in the oversight efforts of the commission and others.”
The resolution also states that decisions like removing the department’s two constitutional policing advisors while also attempting to rehire deputies fired for things like fabricating evidence undermine the department’s credibility and threaten reform. And even though deputy gangs are banned, they still seem to operate within the department. Recent examples include the Banditos of East L.A. and the Compton Executioners.
But, that’s not all. The resolution also mentions that the LASD prevented Inspector General Max Huntsman from being present at Dijon Kizzee’s autopsy.
The department is also accused of violating the First Amendment rights of protesters and the journalists covering those protests. This would include the arrest of KPCC reporter Josie Huang, about whom Villanueva presented misleading information while trying to defend his deputies’ actions.
Villanueva is also accused of not properly investigating the deputies who allegedly leaked photos of the crash that killed Kobe Bryant and then blocking the inspector general’s attempt to analyze the way the matter was handled.
He also once said of County Supervisor Hilda Solis, “Are you trying to earn the title of a La Malinche?” La Malinche is a derogatory term used to refer to a woman as a traitor or sellout.
For their part, the Sheriff’s Department responded with a letter that commission Chair Lael Rubin said was “demeaning” and “really gave a sense that he has no intention of working with us.”
Meanwhile, on Twitter, the LASD referred to the call for resignation as “political theater.”
Villanueva will definitely continue as sheriff, at the very least, for now. While voters can recall an elected official, the commission doesn’t have that authority. Villanueva’s term ends in 2022.