Supes to consider options to remove sheriff

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva

In following the ongoing clash between the Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the board approved a number of motions related to their ability to limit the sheriff’s powers and ultimately remove him from office.

While the California Constitution limits the scope of the authority the Board of Supervisors has over the sheriff, recently passed Assembly Bill 1185 is set to allow counties to establish an oversight board or an office of inspector general, giving them true investigatory powers and the ability to issue subpoenas.

In L.A. County, where the Civilian Oversight Commission, an independent advisory oversight commission created by the board in 2014 to oversee operations of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, and an inspector general’s office already exist, AB 1185 is set to strengthen their authority.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to officially adopt AB 1185, which is set to take effect Jan. 1, further establishing a procedure for the issuance and enforcement of subpoenas under the new legislation.

Another motion aimed at looking into legislative changes that could allow the board to authorize an appointed sheriff, remove certain existing responsibilities of the sheriff and “curtail the sheriff’s resistance to transparency, accountability and the faithful performance of duties” passed 3-2. 

Villanueva addressed the Board of Supervisors regarding the motion, stating that regardless of past disagreements, he’s committed to working with them to serve L.A. County residents.

“I have an open door policy, (and) I’d like to meet with each and every one of you personally,” Villanueva said. “I want to encourage everyone to remember what President Biden said, ‘Let’s stop demonizing people. Let’s start working together. Let’s find solutions together.’”

The two who voted against the motion were Supervisor Janice Hahn of the 4th District and Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, who said that while she doesn’t agree with many of Villanueva’s decisions, she noted he was independently elected.

“We cannot make long-term policy decisions based on the short-term personalities that be,” Barger said. “The voters made their decision in 2018, and they will have another opportunity in 2022. Unless there’s a community-led effort to vacate that seat prior to the next election cycle, I encourage the sheriff to be transparent and collaborative and (Office of Inspector General) and the (Civilian Oversight Commission), and I am going to take him up on his offer to meet and move forward to address the needs of the department, especially as it relates to transparency.” 

The motion, which was introduced on the Oct. 27 meeting’s supplemental agenda before being continued to the next meeting, is set to instruct county counsel, in conjunction with the inspector general and the acting CEO, to consult with the executive director of the commission and justice advocates, to report back to the Board of Supervisors with options for removing or impeaching the sheriff.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion to finalize an agreement for Sheriff Security Services to return to county parks by Nov. 30, following Villanueva’s announcement that the Parks Services Bureau would be a line-item budget cut for 2020-21.

A motion passed in Oct. 13’s meeting was set to look into immediately addressing the policing gap, including the potential transfer of $23.975 million from the Sheriff’s Department to the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget to ensure the funding is spent on park, venue and event security.

The newly passed motion would do just that if no agreement is reached by the end of November, asking the sheriff to instead enter into a memorandum of understanding, returning services at county parks at no additional cost effective until June 30, 2021.

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