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Sheriff Villanueva Blasts County Board Of Supervisors, DA George Gascón During 'Year In Review' Press Conference

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - At a Wednesday press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva reported that homicides are up 94% over the last two years and car thefts are up by more than 50%, as well speaking on a number of other issues he said are affecting the department.

LA County Sheriff

Villanueva didn't hold back when it came to criticizing his favorite targets, District Attorney George Gascón and the LA County Board of Supervisors.

It's his view that their actions, or inactions, have been the biggest obstacle he's had to overcome as sheriff.

"They need to knock off all the virtue signaling that's going on over there and start doing hard decisions based on facts that are going to make the community safer," Villanueva said.

The sheriff did take time to tout some of his successes, such as cleaning up several homeless encampments, like the tents in Venice, and he noted the amount of complaints have decreased significantly over the past year as a result of his body-worn camera program.

"It's working, the body-worn camera system is working," he said.

Perhaps the sheriff's biggest grip is his lack of overall staffing, blaming the Board of Supervisors for a hiring freeze. The department is at 9,500 sworn staff and, ideally, Villanueva would like to hire 800 more.

"They'll hire librarians. They'll hire clerks in all the other county departments, but they don't want to allow us to hire deputy sheriffs," he said.

As for his thoughts on Gascón, Villanueva said the DA's office simply takes too long with deputy-involved shooting investigations. He also pointed to the glaring two-year increase in homicides, none of which he held himself accountable for.

"A lot of it is going to be reflected on who is the district attorney, policies that are being pursued, zero bail schedule for example, Prop 47. There's a bevy of things influencing that number," Villanueva said.

The sheriff also said he has an open-door policy and that he's still willing to work with the current group of supervisors, though he said he's hoping a change will come with

District Attorney George Gascón
District Attorney George Gascón. (CBSLA)

the June election.

Asked to comment on Villanueva's press conference, Alex Bastian, Special Advisor to District Attorney George Gascón said:

"Police accountability is a top priority for this District Attorney. He is working to restore the public's faith in the criminal legal system by holding law enforcement officers who violate the law accountable for their crimes. In his first year, District Attorney Gascón's administration filed criminal charges against 21 officers from seven agencies, including five sheriff's deputies, for on-the-job offenses. The District Attorney also increased resources to investigate and prosecute police misconduct. We take these cases very seriously and conduct a complete and thorough review as expeditiously as possible, based on the totality of the evidence."

CBSLA also reached out to Supervisor Hilda Solis and asked for reaction to Sheriff Villanueva's criticism of the Board of Supervisors, specifically the sheriff's remarks about the Board wanting to defund his department, the hiring freeze and his statements calling Supervisor Solis out by name and alleging that she was responsible for not allowing law enforcement to provide security on MTA trains.

Supervisor Solis provided the following statement to CBSLA:

"Frankly, it's disturbing that the Sheriff is politicizing recent tragedies at a time when we should all come together to identify true solutions. In December 2021, the Metro Board authorized an additional $75 million for the multi-agency contract between Metro and three law enforcement agencies including the Sheriff's Department, bringing the total law enforcement contract value to $757 million which is $100 million over the original amount awarded in 2017 when the contract first began. This action ensures that all three agencies are able to continue providing law enforcement services on the Metro system, including on railcars, through the remainder of their contract. I do, however, recognize that we need additional resources, not just law enforcement, to engage with Metro's diverse ridership such as those with mental health needs and people experiencing homelessness. In line with this approach, in October 2021, I co-authored a motion that was approved by the Board of Supervisors authorizing a partnership between Metro and the County's Department of Mental Health for co-response team and psychiatric response team services which will provide a new resource for those experiencing mental health crises on the Metro system. If the Sheriff wants to be a partner to the Metro Board and our 1.2 million daily riders, he should provide facts instead of misinformation so that we can keep riders and the public safe. As Chair of the Metro Board of Directors, i want to assure everyone that I will always prioritize the safety of riders and employees."


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