LA County Supes May Take Malibu Out Of Sheriff’s Realm, Set Up County Police, As Battle With Villanueva Heats Up

Written by on October 24, 2020

L A County supervisors are considering taking Malibu out of the sheriff’s department.

Not just Malibu … all of the 40 or so small cities in L A County that hire the L A county sheriff’s office to be their municipal police forces.

Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas says major California cities get to hire their own police chiefs … and set up civilian review board to review police actions.

L A county’s elected sheriff … Alex Villanueva …refuses to cooperate with a civilian review board that was just given subpoena power by a 73 percent vote of L A County’s electorate.

Malibu, along with about 45 other cities in the county, hire the sheriff’s office to be the city police.

Ridley Thomas wants the board to investigate taking the contract cities out of the sheriff’s office … and set up a county police department to handle law enforcement.

This county police department would be carved out of the elected sheriff’s domain, eviscerating the power of the elected official, and handing it over to local control, county commissions and ultimately the Board of Supervisors.

The sheriff presumably would be left to handle warrants, evictions and other non-police matters in cities, and might be left with a rump department to handle unincorporated areas.

Maybe … such a move would be unprecedented in California.

The county supervisor … who has substantial support from his colleagues … also wants legal options on how to get Sacramento legislators to approve laws or proposed constitutional changes to get rid of electing sheriffs in L A County.

That may require voters across California to amend the California Constitution.

Short of that … the supervisor wants options on legislative changes required to potentially remove existing responsibilities of the Sheriff.

This would include municipal law enforcement services and court services.

In addition to starting legal work to knife up the sheriff’s office … the supervisors on Tuesday will considering ways to impeach or otherwise remove Villanueva.

The supervisors note that the Sheriff Villanueva’s attempts to block oversight of investigations into fatal deputy-involved shootings.

Ridley Thomas says public confidence in the sheriff is waning as Villanueva resists a reasonable level of accountability.

The ongoing issues with the Sheriff are in notable contrast to the state of law enforcement at the City of Los Angeles … Ridley Thomas noted.

Los Angeles has an  LAPD Chief appointed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the Police Commission and City Council.

In his proposal, Ridley Thomas said Villanueva  has repeatedly demonstrated his inability to balance the LASD budget to the detriment of County residents, especially during the ongoing COVID- 19 crisis.

He compares the sheriff’s office to every other county department director, who have taken extraordinary measures to curtail costs and maintain an appropriate level of service. 

Ridley Thomas complains that the Sheriff has opted to take dramatic unilateral measures to cut critical programs such as the Youth Activity League, and eliminate the Parks Services Bureau.

Moreover, the County has paid more than $149 million over the last five years to settle lawsuits and satisfy judgments stemming from Deputy-involved law enforcement incidents such as civil-rights violations, excessive use of force, sexual assaults, and killings, Ridley Thomas said.

KBUU News was the first news agency to get a copy of his proposed ordinance.

[There are no radio stations in the database]