Outgoing Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell posted a farewell message on the department’s Facebook page late Friday, defending the reforms instituted and “promises kept” during his four-year term.
McDonnell had held off on conceding his unexpected defeat to retired sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva while ballot-counting continued from the Nov. 6 election, but he finally conceded the race Nov. 26, after the returns showed Villanueva’s lead steadily increasing to a 52.6 to 47.4 percent edge.
Villanueva will be sworn in as the new sheriff on Monday.
Here is the complete text of McDonnell’s farewell message:
“I have spent four decades in public service focused on one mission: protecting the people of Los Angeles County. I grew up as the son of immigrant parents; my dad was a laborer and my mom was a domestic worker. We lived in a working-class neighborhood where I witnessed the hopes and dreams of families seeking a better life. I learned the value of hard work at an early age and I knew — by all that surrounded me — that where there is poverty, there are no guarantees. Growing up in public housing, I knew that parents wondered daily, “Will my child come home safely?” Business owners questioned whether their store would be the next to be targeted. But I also learned at an early age that lives improve and opportunity can take root in communities that are stable and safe. I have invested my entire professional life in that nexus between hope and opportunity, and the role that law enforcement plays in providing both.
“I think my upbringing is why I became a champion of community policing. It is why I found myself leading early reform efforts at the Los Angeles Police Department, the Long Beach Police Department, and ultimately, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. People need to be able to trust the police. The police need the trust of the community. Without that trust, there is chaos. However, to accomplish this balance in the modern era, our deputies must be more than just good street cops. The expectations for police are high and the scrutiny is intense.
“When I was elected the 32nd Sheriff of Los Angeles County, it was to lead an organization that was deeply fractured by scandal and internal politics. Four years later, I am proud to say that the LASD is a very different organization, one poised to be a national leader in jail reform, emergency response, and situational preparedness for major catastrophes. We have increased accountability and bolstered our oversight, and we have seen the results in decreased uses of force, increased training in crisis intervention, and in a culture of renewed leadership and compassion.
“We are now more willing to ask ourselves the tough questions about policy and procedure. For example, I instituted a shooting review process to do case analyses of deputies who have been involved in multiple shootings. And our once troubled jail system is now a national model for the reform of large jail systems.
“In 2015, we created the LASD Human Trafficking Bureau and the Los Angeles Regional Taskforce on Human Trafficking. We have rescued over 300 women and children from the horrific reality of sex trafficking. In doing so, we have also played a major role in changing the dialogue about those being exploited; rather than labeling them prostitution suspects, they are now rightfully recognized as sex trafficking victims. We have also pioneered progressive policing policies that aim to protect the rights of transgender individuals and undocumented immigrants.
“While my decisions were not popular with everyone, my guiding principle was always to protect the lives and wellbeing of every resident of Los Angeles County, no matter their circumstances. In doing so, we worked to win back the trust and respect of the residents that we are privileged to serve.
“In these contentious political times, and during this historic Sheriff’s race, allegations were made about my administration that were simply not based on fact. For the record, and for the sake of history, I would like to conclude my term in office with a summary of promises made and kept during my four years as Sheriff.
“I invite you to click on this link to a special edition of the LASD 2018 Year in Review: lasd.org/pdf/2018-YIR-VIEW2.pdf
“There was a tremendous amount of work accomplished in such a short time. These are accomplishments that set the standard for integrity, accountability and service for generations to come.”
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