As Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva faces a crisis over his decision to hire back troubled deputies and his challenging of some policing reforms, he is getting pushback from some leaders in the cities his department patrols under contract, it was reported Monday.
Those cities collectively paid $310 million to the Sheriff’s Department this past year and have long been seen as a key source of political power, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But now, they are worried their liability costs could swell under Villanueva, who has criticized previous jail violence reforms and has reinstated deputies who were fired for unreasonable force, dishonesty and domestic violence. The concerns add to the political pressure on the new sheriff, whose moves have been questioned in the months since his underdog campaign defeated incumbent Jim McDonnell last fall.
Villanueva insisted last month that the contract cities “couldn’t care less” about the turmoil between him and the county Board of Supervisors, which has sued over his decision to reinstate a troubled deputy. But in a letter in response, the cities’ membership organization said the sheriff’s comment about the contract cities was “inaccurate and highly troubling,” the Los Angeles Times reported. The letter also cited The Times’ reporting about Villanueva’s feud with the Board of Supervisors.
“There is significant risk associated with reinstating deputies who have a history of excessive force or other misconduct and were previously dismissed in accordance with long-established department policy, particularly if those deputies are ever assigned to a contract city,” said the letter, signed by the leaders of the California Contract Cities Association.
Marcel Rodarte, the association’s executive director, said the letter was spurred by hearing complaints from a significant number of member cities. He declined to name them, saying they preferred to advocate through the organization, The Times reported.
Villanueva, speaking at a Times editorial board meeting Tuesday, said he’s received positive feedback at recent community meetings in Lancaster, Palmdale, Carson and Norwalk. He said leaders of some of those cities are “tickled to death” by the department’s performance. Indeed, some city leaders interviewed by The Times backed Villanueva’s leadership.
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