Alex Villanueva
Alex Villanueva. Campaign photo

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been rebuked by the Los Angeles Democratic party, which had endorsed him during his campaign to be L.A County’s top cop.

The rare rebuke Villanueva has received nine months into his term reflects concerns about his reinstatement of fired deputies, testimony by a former Sheriff*s Department official that Villanueva’s former chief of staff pressured her to alter records of misconduct, and his policy allowing inmates to be handed over to federal immigration agents through intermediaries, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party passed a resolution Tuesday calling on Villanueva to restore trust in his department, according to The Times. It asks him to adhere to recommendations on hiring practices by the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, to end inmate transfers to federal immigration agents and their contractors, and to reverse all decisions by a panel that reinstated a deputy fired for violating department policies regarding domestic abuse and lying. The resolution also expressed concern that Villanueva’s son was admitted into the Sheriff’s Department academy despite a history of driving under the influence.

Party leaders said it was highly unusual, if not unprecedented in recent memory, for the organization to publicly express sharp disapproval of an official so soon after endorsing him.

“We felt really misled, almost conned, by the difference between Villanueva’s rhetoric and the things he has done since he was elected,” said Damian Carroll, member-at-large of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, who authored the resolution, The Times reported. Carroll said he had been a big believer in Villanueva and his progressive ideas during the campaign.

Carroll said the resolution stems from a feeling of “buyer’s remorse” by the wider membership and serves as a warning to Villanueva that he will not be endorsed again if he doesn’t make swift changes.

County Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez cautioned that the resolution is not an outright condemnation of the sheriff but rather a call to action and an opportunity for Villanueva to institute reforms, The Times reported.

The resolution says Villanueva “ran on a platform of reforming and restoring trust in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; but, since his election, trust has only been further eroded by numerous complaints of abuse of his office. We are now making a public appeal to the sheriff asking him to make significant changes to restore the public’s trust in Sheriff’s Department.”

The resolution was approved by a simple majority of members, with 177 of them in attendance, Gonzalez said, according to The Times.

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