LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva conducted his weekly town hall meeting to discuss crime stats, street takeovers, a grand jury’s recommendation regarding the Men’s Central Jail, and answer questions from the community including addressing alleged threats made towards the East Los Angeles station.
Surviving an active shooter situation was also touched on in response to the mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill on July 4.
“Always be familiar with your surroundings and know where the entrance and exits are and visualize an escape route,” said Villanueva. “When you call 9-1-1 report the location, number of suspects, description of suspects, and if there is anyone injured.”
“When shooting starts first thing to do is run in the opposite direction, if you can’t run hide and barricade yourself, and if the first two have failed confront the shooter and use objects around you to strike the suspect. Bum rush them, there’s safety in numbers.”
“We shut down three takeovers and are being aggressive and people will start losing their cars,” said Villanueva.
The sheriff also touched on a civil grand jury that convened regarding the Men’s Central Jail who found the County should “scrap long delayed and debated plans to demolish the MCJ” as it serves a custodial and penal mission for hardened criminals.
“Men’s Central Jail as constructed and laid out is still needed for imprisoning hardened criminals jailed in Los Angeles County,” said Villanueva reading directly from the report. “When we have alternatives to incarceration and motto ‘care first, jails last’ while these types of programs may further reduce the inmate population there is still a need for a facility that is more like a prison than a jail.”
“Murder, arson, sex crimes, sex crimes against children, etc… these hardened criminals require custody facility that can accomodate those that prey upon society including hardcore gang members who make up a significant portion of the current population of the MCJ.”
The report notes that shortly after the election of Villanueva in 2019 the BOS voted to cancel a $1.7 billion dollar contract to replace MCJ and build a mental health treatment facility which was led by County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl. Then supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas voted to cancel the contract.
“We know that we are putting not only inmates’ lives at risk, but sheriffs’ lives at risk, and custodies’ lives at risk every day that we allow Men’s Central Jail to continue to be open,” Barger said. “So I won’t support scrapping it until we know that we have the capacity” to make up for the beds that will be lost by demolishing the jail.”
The civilian grand jury also called for much needed repairs to MCJ.
Finally, Villanueva responded to questions surrounding threats made to the East LA station and the July 1 civilian oversight committee.
“On July 2 at roughly 1 a.m. the internals affair bureau public complaint received an email…which stated the following: you f’n cowards like to shoot people in the back huh? Eye for an eye mother f’ers. Your days are numbered we’re watching and coming for you one sheriff for every innocent person shot or called.”
Villanueva said a criminal threat was made resulting in a threat assessment and modifications to patrol in that area.
The sheriff connected the threats to the ongoing Civilian Oversight Commission’s investigation into deputy gangs which hasn’t resulted in any criminal charges being filed. He specifically spoke to conflicting testimony of two retired deputies who testified July 1 who made conflicting statements regarding an alleged “cover up” of an investigation into the East LA station.
“Mr. Burson’s says he got orders from the chief of staff, then the chief of staff [Larry Del Mese] says I never said that to Mr. Burson”.
The commission got Del Mese to admit to having been a member of the Grim Reapers, and having a tattoo, but stopped short of asking him why and how he got it.
“When you’re perpetuating a false narrative that deputies are gang members because they have tattoos and no evidence to support that, you are elevating the threat level for deputies working on the streets,” said Villanueva.
“Show me evidence that anyone is acting inappropriately with matching tattoos with the applicability of Penal Code Section 13670 that I sponsored, that Asm. Mike Gipson carried and was signed into law by the Governor, that was modeled after the Sheriff’s department policy,” explained Villanueva. “As the employer I have to rely on facts and evidence and there is not a single thing that originates that is of any value to me as an employer.”
“I have taken action and testified under oath to the inspector general and offered to testify again,” said Villanueva. “I terminated four – three direct and one resigned in lieu of termination since they were at retirement age, suspended 22, and caused the transfer of 36, and my first day in office I removed the station commander and replaced the entire leadership team. What else is left to do legally?”
“I will hold people accountable.”2021-2022-LA-County-Civil-Grand-Jury-Final-Report