Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Escalating its war of words with Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the county’s Civilian Oversight Commission unanimously approved a resolution condemning the sheriff’s leadership of the department Oct. 15 and called for his immediate resignation.
The commission had originally planned to adopt a resolution that blasted Villanueva’s administration, accused him of failing to cooperate with the oversight panel and vowing to hold him accountable if he continued to “facilitate dysfunction” in the agency.
But during its discussion, commission members first considered amending the document to make it a “no-confidence” vote, then went even further by demanding his resignation. The panel amended the document to conclude that it has “lost confidence in Sheriff Villanueva’s ability to effectively govern the sheriff’s department. He should resign immediately.”
Commission Chair Lael Rubin made the initial call to add a resignation demand, telling her colleagues, “I don’t think [Villanueva] has any intention of making anything better.” She noted that some members of the panel individually called on the sheriff to step down last month.
“One would have hoped that during the last month, with all of that discussion and public comment and comments in news articles that he would take some of that to heart,” she said. “He obviously has not.”
Other commission members joined her in the call for Villanueva to resign. Commissioner Priscilla Ocen said to simply pass a resolution saying the panel had “grave concerns” would be an “understatement.” She accused Villanueva of engaging in “lies” and “coverups,” and of exacerbating problems in the agency through “his willingness to defend indefensible actions by deputies.”
“He fails to take responsibility for problems in his department, blaming everyone else,” Ocen said. “He blames everyone else, including the former sheriff, for the problems he’s responsible for.”
Villanueva has repeatedly dismissed criticism from the commission, calling its members political pawns of the Board of Supervisors, with whom the sheriff has repeatedly clashed on budget and other issues.
The sheriff’s department posted a statement online after the commission vote insisting that Villanueva has “lawfully responded to all subpoenas” from the commission and recently met with Rubin to “discuss building a better working relationship.”
“This meritless politically motivated attack is unsupported by real facts and remains a shameless repeat of the same spectacle played out on Sept. 17, 2020,” according to the statement. “Despite this political theater,
Sheriff Villanueva will continue being the most accessible and transparent sheriff in the history of Los Angeles County.”
On Oct. 14, the sheriff said the county should have an “elected oversight commission,” saying the current makeup of the panel is “political appointees” of the board, “and they act like it.”
“Their political philosophies are they really, really hate cops or they slightly hate cops or they’re not too sure,” Villanueva said.