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LA County Board Removes Sheriff Alex Villanueva As Head Of Emergency Operations

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as head of emergency operations for the county.

Under the new changes, the County Code now specifies that the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for coordinating the County's activities related to emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

The vote also expands the membership of the County Emergency Management Council and specifies that the Sheriff continues to be responsible for operational command and control over law enforcement activities.

All changes are effective immediately.

In a statement, the board said: "The new protocols bring Los Angeles County into alignment with modern best practices that recommend use of deeply-trained disaster management professionals to manage emergency functions that often span a full range of critical functions such as public health, housing and health services, in addition to public safety."

Today's vote on the code changes had been originally scheduled for March 17, but that meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Supervisors say the effort to remove Villanueva and replace him with the county's CEO has been in the works for more than a year and stems from what they say was a disorganized response to the Woolsey Fire before Villanueva was sworn in as sheriff.

"The biggest concern over the Woolsey Fire was the recovery operations," Villanueva said. "The recovery operations is actually the responsibility of the CEO."

The board's vote also comes on the heels of yet another reversal in the sheriff's controversial bid to order gun stores to close as non-essential businesses under the "Safer At Home" order.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory memorandum Saturday that included firearm and ammunition manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors and shooting ranges as essential.

In a Tuesday afternoon briefing, Villanueva said there would be no change in operations as it relates to COVID-19 following the board's vote.

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