He fooled a great many of us. Campaigning for Sheriff in 2018, Alex Villanueva talked up his Democratic registration and campaigned as a reformer, saying one-term Sheriff Jim McDonnell hadn’t succeeded on a number of fronts, including reforming our jails and weeding out bad actors in the department. He even said he would no longer allow the department to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), intended to add more than 800 deputies to fill out the department, and that we couldn’t solve crime by simply adding more jails.

But Villanueva turned around and didn’t just under-deliver on his promises, but almost performed worse at every turn than previous sheriffs. Yeah, he stopped participating with ICE, but then hired a group of private goons to hunt down undocumented detainees. He didn’t exactly fill out the department with 800 deputies but instead fought to re-hire hundreds of deputies that had been dismissed by Sheriff McDonnell for misconduct. What’s more, Villanueva allowed so many deputies to rack up overtime pay that after less than a year in office, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) had amassed a huge budget deficit. When the Board of Supervisors froze his budget, Villanueva went publicly ballistic, saying his department was woefully underfunded.

Villanueva has continued to disrespect the Supervisors, often showing open disdain for their oversight authority. He continues to duck calls for him to testify under oath to Inspector General Max Huntsman regarding several scandals he claims little or no knowledge of. But there is just too much stacked against him to plead ignorance. In 2019, a Senior Administrative Deputy resigned after refusing to follow an order from a Villanueva aide to reinstate a disreputable deputy and alter his disciplinary record. In recent months at least two senior deputies claim Villanueva was presented with evidence of an inmate being crushed by an officer’s knee to the head, reminiscent of George Floyd’s murder, within a very short time after the incident. But the sheriff says he didn’t see it until many months later, doing nothing to discipline the deputies involved in the abuse. Many are still working to unravel this scandal.

Some 60 female inmates sued the LASD for abuse and embarrassing strip searches they faced at the hands of male deputies at the Century Regional Detention Facility, where Villanueva, as a Lieutenant from 2011-2014, served as their supervisor. He claims to not have known about the abuse. County lawyers saw otherwise, and a settlement was reached awarding the plaintiffs $53 Million.

But it isn’t just the lies, abuse, and incompetence that make Villanueva a horrible sheriff, it’s his entire blustery demeanor and worldview. Once claiming to be a progressive reformer, he now finds himself far more comfortable on white supremacist Tucker Carlson’s news program. He pulled a publicity stunt in Venice, spending several days “sweeping out” unhoused residents. That was sure to make a number of Venetians happy, but the Los Angeles Police Department has jurisdiction in Venice. Not the LASD.

Through typical law enforcement machismo or just in his role as a major asshole, Villanueva even refused to enforce L.A. County’s COVID vaccination mandate, saying it would be a public safety disaster to dismiss 4,000 deputies who refused the shot. He didn’t lead. He capitulated to Trumpy anti-vax deputies who put the public, themselves, and each other at risk of major illness or death. The man has leaned so far right that Los Angeles Magazine declared Villanueva “the Donald Trump of L.A. law enforcement” back in 2019. He’ll continue to pull off bullying stunts like sweeping away homeless persons without actually helping them, and refuses to acknowledge deputy gangs that carry out bad behavior and haze rookies mercilessly. He makes evidence disappear and he tries to cloud every investigation of misconduct. The West Hollywood City council recently spent hours scrutinizing a report regarding the proper use of budgetary funds for their Contract City, whose public safety is patrolled by LASD.

It’s a shame there are so many vying to oppose Villanueva in the June 7 primary election, strengthening Villanueva’s hand. There are several plausible and credible replacements, including Robert Luna, Cecil Rhambo, Eric Strong, and Eli Vera. We personally made department outsider Luna our choice, and for that very reason. But come November, Alex Villanueva, dangerous law enforcement officer, bully, and King of the Jerks, has to go in an “Anybody but” kind of way.

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