Malibu Residents Confront Villanueva About Fickle Appointments At Local Cop Shop
Written by 991KBU on March 4, 2020
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva ducked questions last night about the chain of firings and promotions that have occurred at Malibu’s regional sheriff’s station since his installation 15 months ago.
Villanueva appeared before about 200 people at a community forum in Calabasas.
The sheriff was questioned by several Malibu residents about the series of demotions at the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.
Chris Frost … the chairman of Malibu’s Public Safety commission … told the sheriff he has concerns about the demotions and transfers at Malibu-Lost Hills.
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“Safety is the number one priority of any city … obviously.
“And the turnover of personnel at the Lost Hills station is very disruptive to the law enforcement effort and the safety in the city of Malibu.
“It is important for the city manager and the other heads in our city to have good communication … but without continuity this is not possible.
“Equally important is the chef’s liaisons that make it their business to learn our city and its residents … and cannot operate successfully without continuity in that system.”
Villanueva responded with a four-minute long description of how the department is now making sure that all deputies assigned to any station … are kept there for four years before being promoted and rotated out.
That led to this exchange with this reporter … from KBUU radio.
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“We’re improving the situation in terms of permanency of personnel.
“We have a new batch of lieutenants now at the station … they’re going to be there for quite a while.
“and we’re going to have a new station commander … who is going to be there for quite a while.
“So all that is going to improve … alright … but it’s going to take time.
“It won’t be cured overnight.
“But we are putting everything in motion to get there.
KBUU REPORTER: “Sheriff … I don’t believe you’re hearing the message from Malibu.
“As a reporter … I am hearing over and over again that the community leaders for the sheriffs department who we rely on … who we build relationships with … Lieutenant Royal … Lieutenant Seetoo … are getting yanked out for what we perceived to be as cronyism and favoritism within the department.
“I know there’s a lawsuit on that and you can’t comment on that specifically … but we are hearing Malibu is seeing commander after commander coming in and getting yanked out with no reason.
“What do you say to that?”
VILLANUEVA: “I will say to you that I can’t comment on personnel … individual personnel matters … that would violate their rights.
“But I can say that any decision that we make is definitely not based on cronyism it is based on facts on the ground.
“You may not be aware of all of them.
“And you have to have faith in your city leaders your city managers your city Council is well aware of them and understand the reasons we take moving forward.”
That’s not what we hear from Malibu City Hall.
City Manager Reva Feldman and city council members have repeatedly said they are being caught by surprise by recent sheriff’s office transfers. most particularly the sudden departure of Lt. Jennifer Seetoo.
Last night the sheriff also deflected questions from Calabasas residents about reports in the Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper revealed that sheriff’s deputies had been displaying gruesome cellphone pictures shot at the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene in a bar in Norwalk.
The Times also reported the Villanueva himself apparently violated his own department’s written policies by demanding that deputies delete the cellphone pictures, instead of preserving them as evidence.
Villanueva challenged a reporter Tuesday night in Calabasas by saying there was no evidence destroyed … because in order to have evidence you have to have a crime … and no crime was committed by the deputies taking gruesome pictures at the crash site.
At the time of the photo deletion incident, the area was designated a crime scene … and evidence was in fact being collected by federal safety investigators and sheriff’s homicide detectives.
Villanueva also last night took credit for improving morale and increasing hiring in the department, shaving one third of the the nearly 1,000 vacancies he inherited when he took office.
He said the Malibu-Lost Hills Station is now only two deputies below full staffing. “A record,” he said