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Meet the Candidates: @Vince4Sheriff

photo: http://LouVince.com

photo: http://LouVince.com

As L.A. County prepare to vote for Sheriff, Lou Vince is a candidate, who is lesser known than other candidates, but is also a proud law enforcement member.  In the wake of recent events, 2UrbanGirls has reached out to get clarity on what to expect when running one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the State of California.  One question I failed to ask was if you are required to have a law enforcement background, to run for Los Angeles County Sheriff.  Enjoy.

Please tell the 2UrbanGirls readers a little more about yourself and your experience in law enforcement.

I was born in San Rafael, California. I attended Western Illinois University, earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. It was at this point that I decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, feeling an overwhelming need to serve our country. My military career brought me back to California, and in 1995 I decided to stay in Los Angeles County to build a career in law enforcement and start a family. I began my career with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) where my leadership skills were recognized. I quickly rose through the ranks as a Field Training Officer, Sergeant, and Senior Detective Supervisor. I have worked a wide variety of assignments at the LAPD, such as Narcotics, Gangs and Internal Affairs.

I have provided leadership and oversight to many complex law enforcement operations, and was heavily involved in the opening of the LAPD’s Mission (2005) and Topanga (2009) Police Divisions – openings that today are rare. I also served as a Level I Reserve Deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for four years. As a nearly 20 year veteran of Los Angeles law enforcement organizations, I hold extensive knowledge of the County’s many communities, the functions of the laws, and what’s required to lead effectively. In 2010, I completed a Master’s Degree in Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California-Irvine. In 2006, I married my wife, Stacey. We currently have four children, two of which were fostered and adopted through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. We live in Agua Dulce, where I am actively engaged in the community, serving as an elected member of the Agua Dulce Town Council.

Law enforcement, as a profession, isn’t for everyone.  At what point did you decide to dedicate your life to protecting and serving others?

I have always had a sense that there is something to be done- a nobler calling…an overwhelming desire to make things better. This idealism lead me to a career in law enforcement. It also makes me want to participate in what is far from an idealistic process. The political process is messy and the stakes are high. My sense of service to the community and obligation are paramount factors in seeking to be elected Sheriff.

I see a professional law enforcement organization in the LASD and I want to bring my energy and leadership skills to bear on everything from crime fighting to employee wellness. I envision a Sheriff’s Department that is not constantly distracted by allegations of mismanagement and misuse of authority. I intend to see my vision become a reality through a foundation of professionalism and integrity. The public deserves nothing less.

I will bring leadership by example to the Sheriff’s Department from day one because I firmly believe that a highly professional and effective department starts at the top. It will be my job to set the example for professional and ethical behavior for the entire Department to follow. We are public servants and the citizens have a right to hold us to a higher standard of professional and personal behavior.

If elected LA County Sheriff, how many employees would be under you command and what is the coverage area of the Sheriff?

The LASD is the largest Sheriff’s Department in the United States. It has approximately 10,000 sworn Deputies and another 8,000 civilian employees. There are also a few thousand volunteers and Reserve Deputies.

The LASD has law enforcement jurisdiction throughout Los Angeles County. The LASD provides law enforcement services to unincorporated county areas as well as to cities that contract with the LASD. The LASD is responsible for running the jail system, court security, policing community colleges and policing mass transit (MTA).

There is a bear on the LASD badge. Deputies are fond of saying “The bear goes everywhere” as a way to explain the breadth of the LASD’s jurisdiction.

With recent events slamming the leadership of current Sheriff, Lee Baca, what would you do, specifically, to ensure you are abreast on the every move of your staff?

For many in the community, one of the most important issues is to reform the Sheriff’s Department from within. I believe that scandal and the LA County Sheriff’s Department should not be in the same sentence. This can be cured by eliminating mismanagement and poor leadership at the top. As Sheriff, I will create an environment that fosters creativity and encourages innovation- while excuses are not tolerated. We will take out of our vocabulary “That’s the way we’ve always done it”.

I know current management is not taking responsibility for the leadership and accountability of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Like the military, the Sheriff’s Department is an institution that follows a policy of top-down command structure. Duties, authority and responsibility can and should be delegated to officers of lower rank, but the ultimate responsibility and power of the top ranking officer should never be abdicated – never surrendered! It is apparent that the Sheriff has chosen abdication over delegation. Failed policy after failed policy, he uses the excuse of ignorance of the situation or he blames his former command staff (who are running for Sheriff also) – which leads to paralysis throughout the entire organization. Paralysis is not a good thing when you risk your life daily on the streets and in the jails.

The Office of the Sheriff can no longer turn a blind eye to the action of those under his command, and responsibility- from the top down- needs to be accepted for any failure that happens. A Sheriff cannot create paralysis- paralysis is not acceptable. There are Deputies on the street and in the jails that make split second decisions every day. They need to know their leadership supports them. They need to know what the expectations of their Sheriff are. A Sheriff must delegate authority and responsibility properly; He must give clear assignments to his staff; He must establish obtainable goals and exercise responsible management to evaluate progress. I will implement effective solutions, and reinforce the highest ethical standards of the Deputies and employees of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. As Sheriff, I assure you, the community, that the department will be known for heroism and bravery, not for misconduct.

The LA County Sheriff were recently listed in a lawsuit, alongside the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, for discrimination and harassment, against residents participating in the Section 8 program ( http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20130702/doj-wants-la-county-lancaster-palmdale-to-pay-for-section-8-harassment).  What specific steps would you take to ensure the residents are treated fairly and with respect?

After an exhaustive two-year investigation, the United States Department of Justice concluded that Sheriff Lee Baca’s Department, including former Undersheriff Tanaka, violated the Constitution and federal laws in its treatment of Blacks, and to a lesser extent Hispanics, in public housing in the Antelope Valley. Officials found a “pattern or practice of discrimination against African-Americans in its enforcement of the Housing Choice Voucher Program in violation of the Fair Housing Act”.

As the next Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I will ensure that all employees of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will enforce the law consistent with the Constitution of the United States of America. I will ensure that equal protection of the law is guaranteed to everyone. One of the Department’s most fundamental principles will be our commitment to treat all people with dignity, fairness and respect. Whenever the actions of members of the Sheriff’s Department are perceived to be, or found to be as in the DOJ investigation, biased, unfair or disrespectful, the trust of the diverse communities we serve is severely diminished. The ability of the Sheriff’s Department to perform our job is dependent on the public’s approval and trust. We need to maintain the trust and respect of the public in order to be effective at what we do. I will not tolerate any less.

I will not tolerate any discriminatory conduct on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability in the conduct of law enforcement activities. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies will not use race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability to any extent or degree in conducting stops or detentions, except when engaging in the investigation of appropriate suspect specific activity to identify a particular person or group. Sheriff’s Department personnel seeking an individual or group who have been identified in part by their race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability may only rely in part on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability and only in combination with other appropriate identifying factors. Deputies shall not give race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability any undue weight in taking law enforcement action.

Failure to comply with the above policy is a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights and is counterproductive to effective and professional policing. It amounts to biased policing and will be considered to be a serious act of misconduct. As Sheriff, I will demand that all Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel are committed to serving all of the diverse communities of Los Angeles County while protecting the rights of all people.

Justice may be blind, but the residents of Los Angeles County cannot be. The “ostrich optimism” so many have had relative to Sheriff Baca and Undersheriff Tanaka has been rebutted by nearly 16 years of Baca and his minions bringing us scandal after scandal. This latest biased policing investigation is just one more reason we need a change in leadership at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department- and we don’t need to trade one career LASD manager for another- we need someone with inside knowledge and an outside perspective. That person is me!

With additional reports coming out addressing inmate violence in the LA County jails, what specific steps would you take to address hiring procedures to ensure deputies aren’t hired with a history of either abuse of prisoners and/or misconduct?

First and foremost, the most important hiring decision right now is who the voters of Los Angeles County hire (elect) as their next Sheriff. Baca was elected in 1998 and, by the next election, will have had 16 years to spitball, plan, lead, guide, direct, train, motivate and implement any number of reforms, proposals and ideas to reduce jail violence and improve hiring standards.  Sixteen years to bring in academics and subject matter experts.  Sixteen years to try something “outside the box” or drill down and make existing processes more efficient.  Instead, while there has been some interest in reform only lately, it has only been stimulated by community outcry and the media shining the light on the issues that plague the County Jails, and the LASD as a whole.  While Baca has been the head of the jail system for sixteen years, he has essentially been asleep at the wheel.  He has as much as admitted that during the hearings conducted by the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence.  The same goes for former Undersheriff  Tanaka.

As a civic leader and experienced law enforcement professional, my passion is to increase the safety of our County’s residents.  Additionally, I will not tolerate inhumane or brutal treatment of inmates in my care and custody. As your next Los Angeles County Sheriff, I will rely upon my integrity, experience, and desire for positive action to create safe neighborhoods, safe jails and a Sheriff’s Department the citizens can be proud of.  Leadership is action, not just a position or title.  I have the leadership and law enforcement experience needed to bring the positive changes we need for Los Angeles County.  Electing me as your next Sheriff will allow for a fresh set of eyes to focus on long-standing problems, along with the support of a law enforcement system that will always aim to make people’s lives safer.  In the words of the great artist, Michelangelo, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”  Jail violence and hiring dilemmas, among other things, can be fixed. I will fix them.

(NOTE: I realize my answer to your pointed question was slightly vague. The LA Times has asked for candidates to lay out the specific steps you have asked me to lay out in this question regarding hiring standards. I am respectfully holding that plan back here as the LA Times will not publish something that has been previously published by another media outlet. However, if they pass on it, or water it down to not be meaningful, I will certainly forward it to you. Thank you for understanding.)

Could all of the above described events happen under your watch, if you are elected LA County Sheriff?  And if yes, how would you respond to the criticism levied against your leadership?

Anything is possible, but it is certainly not likely. Look, in any large organization there is always going to be a problem or a problem person. The issue is how that organization- and its leadership- responds to whatever crisis or challenge comes up. The Sheriff and Undersheriff have proven that they have a 3 pronged plan to deal with all challenges: 1) I didn’t know 2) nobody told me, and 3) It’s somebody else’s fault. That will not fly on my watch. If a mistake is made, we will all learn and improve. Criticism and opposing viewpoints can be beneficial and will be encouraged. Conflict is inevitable. The trick is turning conflict into effective and positive change. I’ve got the mindset and fortitude to lead the LASD into the 21st Century!

Woodrow Wilson once said, “”If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” And considering I’m the only candidate for Sheriff not formerly employed by the Sheriff’s Department, I imagine my campaign will ruffle a few feathers. But when you’ve spent your career locking up murderers, rapists and other violent felons, you don’t get too worried about ruffling feathers. My message is simple:  I have the leadership and law enforcement experience needed.  And, since I do not have direct ties to the Sheriff’s Department, I am the candidate who WILL make necessary changes.

LouVince.com

 


About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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