LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County officials Tuesday postponed a vote for two weeks on whether to consider removing or impeaching Sheriff Alex Villanueva, or restricting his responsibilities and appointing a county police officer.
L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who introduced the motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, said he thought his colleagues needed more time to review the proposal, titled “Report Regarding Options for Removing the Sheriff.”
The plan recommends that the board gather lawyers, its inspector general, the Civilian Oversight Commission and acting CEO to look at options for removing or impeaching the sheriff.
The Board of Supervisors has been at odds with Sheriff Alex Villanueva since he was elected to the position in 2018.
“Under the current sheriff, hard-fought vital progress is being undone, and community trust is rapidly eroding,” the motion states. “While the board has been able to navigate challenging times with previous sheriffs, this sheriff’s actions demonstrate the dire need to explore options for removing a sheriff who refuses oversight or, at a minimum, mitigating damages cause by unacceptable behavior.”
The motion also implies that the board should consider whether in the future the position of sheriff should be appointed, as it is with the LAPD chief, as opposed to elected. It’s unclear what kind of legal or political hurdles that would require the board to clear.
“Given the recent but persistent refusal to provide the transparency and accountability that the community rightly demands, the County should consider whether the status of the Sheriff’s office should be reexamined in order to better serve the more than 10 million residents of the County. The need for mechanisms to hold an elected Sheriff accountable is painfully obvious today, at a time when communities across the County are reeling from violence – including much-too-frequent deputy involved shootings.”
Villanueva and the board have been in a battle for months about a host of issues ranging from his budget to deputy cliques.
The board sued the sheriff in order to insist that a deputy terminated for misconduct not be reinstated by Villanueva. The sheriff has sued the inspector general, accusing his staff of illegally accessing department documents.
The board motion comes after the civilian oversight commission called for the sheriff’s resignation earlier this month. Villanueva dismissed the commission’s vote, and accused the group of punishing him for investigating potential corruption.
In an Oct. 16 letter posted on his department’s website and titled “The Truth About LASD,” Villanueva laid out his accomplishments as sheriff, including a moratorium on ICE transfers without a judicial warrant and hiring a more diverse workforce. He pushed back against those who think he hasn’t done enough to eradicate deputy cliques, saying he has terminated 68 employees and supported criminal charges against 15 individuals in connection with related misconduct.
The motion calls for a report back in 30 days from County Counsel regarding the board’s legal options for dealing with the sheriff.
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