LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Wednesday rebuked Inspector General Max Huntsman in a live virtual question-and-answer session with members of the public.
Villanueva’s scathing remarks came two days after Huntsman told the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that sheriff’s deputies were failing to follow public health orders that required them to wear face coverings on the job.
“It’s our concern too, the use of the masks. … We want to flatten the (coronavirus) curve obviously,” Villanueva said. “Deputies have been responding to fires, civil unrest and murder scenes … in this extreme heat, there’s a lot of concern about wearing the masks in addition to all the other restrictive gear the deputies are wearing.
“Between the vests, the 15-pound belts, helmets, shields, all these things, the physical exertion in the field, not easy. But they need to wear them whenever they can, that means when they’re contacting civilians, citizens when they’re in buildings, they need to throw those masks on, and we’re working hard to enforce that.”
In the letter to the board, Huntsman said he reported the issue Friday to the board and a watchdog agency that oversees the sheriff’s department after he said he failed to get a response from Villanueva about the issue for nearly two months.
According to the department, a total of 816 employees have tested positive for the virus.
Huntsman’s letter also called for the board to subpoena records in an effort to further investigate allegations that the sheriff’s department, or its personnel, were responsible for a party that was held at the Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood earlier this month, in clear violation of state and local orders.
The department has previously said the accusations were “categorically false,” and a hoax — a claim Villanueva repeated Wednesday.
“”It looks like it was a hoax, intended to smear the reputation of the sheriff’s department,” he said. “It failed on all counts, but leave it to Max Huntsman to try to keep that flame alive and well.
“What concerns me is that this has been thoroughly debunked, and why is he still holding onto this thing? That really is a sad note to Mr. Huntsman’s investigative skills and, I don’t know, his integrity as an alleged investigator,” the sheriff continued. “When we do an inquiry, which we did, and we found out it had nothing to do with us, there’s no fancy investigation that’s going to follow when we’ve already answered the question. It’s done, it’s over. Move on; we have. But Mr. Huntsman? That’s not him.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)