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Sheriff Alex Villanueva Sending Deputies To Venice Beach Encampments

VENICE (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he would be sending deputies out to Venice Beach Tuesday morning.

A person plays a musical instrument near an encampment at Venice Beach on June 7, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - Mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino spoke about his "Plan For A Safer Los Angeles" to address the homelessness crisis in the city, as homeless encampments of unhoused people across the city remain a key issue for the city's residents. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Even though the beach lies within the Los Angeles Police Department's jurisdiction, Villanueva said the homelessness crisis was forcing his hand and he was going to get involved.

"Our homeless outreach service team, they're going to be there tomorrow morning bright and early," he said Monday. "They're going to start interfacing with the homeless, start doing their assessments and figuring out where everybody is in their transition from being homeless to being housed."

Villaneuva said he was not trying to start a turf battle, but instead was trying to help.

"I'm not going to blame LAPD whatsoever," he said. "I think they can definitely do the job. They're more than capable, have good leadership. However, if they're hamstrung by politicians that don't want them to do their job, well then they're left in a very, very bad situation."

Earlier on Monday, Villanueva was on the boardwalk around the same time a woman armed with a knife was arrested where Councilman Joe Buscaino was speaking about the city's growing population of unhoused residents.

An LAPD captain who works on Buscaino's security team was cut by the knife, but was not seriously injured. Buscaino is running for mayor of Los Angeles.

The tent encampments on the boardwalk have taken center stage in the city's homelessness crisis, a place that normally attracts hundreds of tourists in the summertime.

"Being first time in Los Angeles just seeing all this garbage I probably wouldn't visit here specifically again with it being so dirty and feeling unsafe," one woman said.

"It's a little overwhelming, kind of gross and just a little nerve wracking with certain individuals around," another woman said.

As for Villanueva, he said state law is on his side and that he has the legal right to send in his team. Loyola Law Professor Jessica Levinson agreed.

"Under the California Penal Code, the L.A. County Sheriff's [Department has] jurisdiction anywhere in the county," she said.

As for who's to blame for the growing crisis, Villanueva called out some of L.A.'s top politicians.

"I have to go to the city level," he said. "What is [Councilman] Mike Bonin doing? And I'm going to have to throw some of this on Mayor [Eric] Garcetti, what directions do you give to the LAPD that restrict their ability to do their job?"

CBS Los Angeles reached out to LAPD and the offices of Bonin and Garcetti about the issue, but did not immediately hear back.

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