The Civilian Oversight Commission for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) hosted a virtual meeting Thursday during which it unanimously voted (8-0) to approve a resolution expressing no confidence in L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s leadership and calling for his resignation. The commission also accused the sheriff of failing to cooperate with the oversight panel.
The commission writes that although Villanueva has enacted “important reforms,” such as a ban on Immigration and Customs Enforcement transfers and policies prohibiting deputy gangs, that work has “been overshadowed by Sheriff Villanueva’s 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.”
According to City News Service, “The commission had originally planned to adopt a resolution that blasted Villanueva’s administration, accusing him of failing to cooperate with the oversight panel and vowing to hold him accountable if he continued to ‘facilitate dysfunction’ in the agency.”
However, Commission Chair Lael Rubin said that after “The sheriff responded with a letter addressing the proposed resolution that was demeaning to the commission and members of the community. It really gave a sense that he has no intention of working with us. I will join the colleagues of mine in calling for his resignation.”
After discussion, commissioners agreed on updated language to the resolution that underscored that they have no confidence in the sheriff’s ability to effectively govern the LASD and ultimately concluding that he should resign immediately.
“The resolution highlights that L.A. County residents deserve a Sheriff’s Department that is cooperative, respectful, transparent, accountable, trustworthy, and amenable to change,” said Brian K. Williams, Executive Director of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission.
Despite its strongly phrased resolution, the commission “remains committed to implementing constructive reforms in collaboration with Sheriff Villanueva and wishes to see Sheriff Villanueva succeed in rebuilding the Sheriff’s Department.”
Furthermore, it “stands ready to engage with Sheriff Villanueva in an effort to maintain a respectful dialog,” the commission wrote. With so much animosity between the sheriff and commission, it seems doubtful this will be a possibility.
The commission also heard from Inspector General Max Huntsman who presented an overview of the Office of Inspector General report: “Analysis of the Criminal Investigation of the Alleged Assault by Banditos.”
In report, investigators found that “Substantial evidence exists to support the conclusion that the Banditos are gang-like and their influence has resulted in favoritism, sexism, racism, and violence.” The report also accuses Villanueva of promoting a code of silence regarding sub-groups in the department.
A Sheriff’s Department representative, Lieutenant Mark Lopez read the Oct. 8 responsive letter from the sheriff. “Unlike previous administrations, I became the first Sheriff to successfully implement a policy specifically addressing employee groups, which violate the rights of other employees or members of the public,” the sheriff defended in his letter.