Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there are better ways to communicate respectfully with the county’s Civilian Oversight Commission than calls for his resignation.
“If they want to maintain respectful dialogue, well I think there’s better ways to do it than call for my resignation,” he said Wednesday, during a live broadcast.
Last week in a unanimous vote, the commission formally called on Villanueva to step down based on “grave concerns” regarding his leadership and failure to cooperate with the commission.
Commission members said those failures include the sheriffs’ lack of a response to multiple subpoenas to discuss issues, such as COVID-19 outbreaks in the jails; LASD officials contend Villanueva has, in fact, responded by sending representatives on his behalf.
“Sheriff Villanueva has lawfully responded to all subpoenas from the COC, and has just recently met with the COC Chair to discuss building a better working relationship,” read a department statement issued after the commission’s vote. “A LASD captain, and a subject matter expert when requested, has attended every COC meeting.”
The commission’s initial, proposed resolution called for a “productive relationship,” but after a lengthy deliberation amongst themselves and comments from the public urging for “a stronger stance,” the board amended the language to reflect that the commission “has lost confidence in Sheriff Villanueva’s ability to effectively govern the Sheriff’s Department. He should resign immediately.”
Still, commissioners reiterated that they remain interested in having a productive relationship with the sheriff.
Villanueva criticized the resolution’s call for both resignation and a productive relationship.
“The resolution says ‘He should resign immediately,’ but then right underneath it, they say ‘nevertheless,’ they want ‘to have a productive relationship’ with the sheriff while they ask for my resignation,” he said. “I’m not sure how we can do that.”
In the department statement issued, officials indicated Villanueva, who called commissioners “attack dogs of the (L.A. County) Board of Supervisors,” will “continue being the most accessible and transparent sheriff in the history of Los Angeles County.”
The sheriff’s position is elected, meaning he can only be removed from office via a recall effort or to vote him out in a regular election. His term ends in 2022.