‘We cannot be the magnet for the nation’s homeless’ | Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Part 3

Councilmember D’Amico also had another question: What is the safest LASD jurisdiction? If not WeHo, why do you think it’s safer?

The safest one would probably have to be Santa Clarita . They made third safest city in America in one of those national surveys of safe cities. It’s a mixture of a variety of things. One is a support for local law enforcement. West Hollywood traditionally has been very supportive of the Sheriff’s Department. I mean, since West Hollywood became a city, we’ve been your law enforcement agency. And so that’s been a very good working relationship. I think just recently, the whole thing about this anti-law enforcement sentiment becoming popular in political circles as in a political agenda, that’s frayed some of those relationships. Could West Hollywood compete and be as safe as Santa Clarita? I think so. I think it’s very possible — but one is more, rural spread out. West Hollywood is very condensed and more vertical — huge tourist destination with a huge nighttime population that doesn’t mirror the daytime population. It’s different challenges — kind of like apples and oranges.

Note: All five City Councilmembers were asked two days before the interview if they would like to submit any questions for Sheriff Villanueva. Lindsey Horvath and Sepi Shyne, who led the effort to reduce the Sheriff’s budget in West Hollywood, did not respond. John Erickson said he had no questions.

Is West Hollywood the only city that is scaling back its approach to the sheriff in defunding or is this a beginning? Or is it a contagion?

The only one that is trying to do that, yes, is West Hollywood. It’s the only city that’s trying to do that. I have other cities that are actually trying to increase their sheriff’s presence. I’ll cite one, for example, is Norwalk. I have other cities that are trying to explore the same thing. We just don’t have the personnel now to be able to increase.

Is there any way to explain the increase in cost in overtime: 50% over ten years?

All of our contracts are audited on a regular basis and we have to be within 98% or 102% of the cost of each contract. If we go under the 98% we have to refund money because we didn’t meet the contractual goals; if we go over then obviously provided more service than the city paid for. We’ve got to keep it at the 100% mark and provide every city exactly what it contracted for. Now that’s not been easy because of 1) the defunding and 2) the hiring freeze has left all of our patrol stations at about 70% capacity. So we’re missing 30% of personnel. So the overtime costs have gone through the roof because now deputies have to work to cover the 30% that aren’t there.

Let’s talk about the homeless. I think everybody knows it puts a tremendous burden on the Sheriff. Where does the Board of Supervisors come into that problem? Bob Hertzberg explained there was an audit — like a billion dollars unspent in the homeless fund, of the taxes we collected. Is there mismanagement there?

There’s a lack of political will. It’s a cardinal sin of the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor and LA City Council. Because of that lack of political will, they’re not constructing emergency shelter capacity, they’re not building permanent residential treatment capacity for those who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. Those three things have to happen 10 years ago and they’re not happening at all. Everybody’s just twiddling their thumbs, as the problem gets bigger and bigger and bigger. We cannot be the magnet of the homeless population for the entire nation. And we are right now.

We are the magnet of the homeless population for the entire nation?

We are ground zero. A full 25% of the entire nation’s homeless population lives in LA County. And that is horrible. And the effects of that to our economy, to the ability of our own — because we generate homeless within our own county who are homegrown. But every person who shows up from Iowa here means there’s less resources for our L.A. County residents and that is a big problem. But the Board doesn’t seem to really care about that. They pretend like we’re going to build our way out of the problem and that’s a fallacy.

The Board of Supervisors voted three to two to try to remove you from office. And get more control over the Sheriff. We have elections?

That’s what elections are for.

Is that an overreach? A power grab?

A massive power grab. To a scale no one has ever seen before.

If it happened in Texas or any other state, they’d go crazy.

It would still be a power grab. In fact in some places they would probably be marching on Hall of Administration to burn it down. Because there’s some things that people respect and that is one. The office of sheriff is an elected position that is steeped in American history and it’s supposed to be independent. I’m not a chief of police serving at the whim of the board. That’s what they want. And the community doesn’t want that.

Because remember, the board is the executive and the legislative branch of county government — they have no oversight. The only thing that is someone comparable in weight, to counter, is the sheriff and the DA. And they’re trying to kill the sheriff.

In a way, would you say that’s like Trump trying to take control of the Department of Justice on the federal level? We complain about that, but here we are Democrats doing the same thing.

Pretty much it would be somewhat similar to that yes.

Do you endorse anybody in the Supervisor race or other races?

Well there are people that I want to see win and people that I don’t care to see win, but I’m not going to endorse anybody who hasn’t reached out and asked for my endorsement.

Are you familiar with the news that when they voted to replace the sheriff and increase the Block by Block security ambassadors for West Hollywood, that the operations manager Shea Gibson previously served time — 8+ years for manslaughter.

Yes.

How do you feel when you feel when they take away the work of your life — a guy who worked his way up the ladde — and they’re gonna fire that guy to replace him with this other type of guy from this organization that has none of these skill sets.

Well, they’re trying to sell that as “We’re enhancing public safety. We’re improving it.” Look now we’ve got 30 of these ambassadors, and that’s 30 people that are not going to do anything when crime is afoot. All they can do is pick up the phone like anybody else. So the city is forcing the residents to pay for less law enforcement services under the guise of somehow they’re enhancing Public safety. They’re not. They’re actually dismantling public safety.

And it’s ideological. They believe that cops are harmful, that less cops are better and that’s why they want these unarmed ambassadors. They’ve been an absolute failure Santa Monica. The concept that they’re working on in the MTA system is is very similar and it’s just as failed.

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Steve Martin
Steve Martin
16 days ago

Block by Block can and does create a “presence” on the street that discourages certain types of crime and makes us safer, but it only supplements our Sheriff’s deputies, it can’t replace them. By cutting deputies, it lengthens response times, so even if a Block by Block Security Ambassador calls in a crime in progress, by the time the deputies may be able to respond, the criminals could be long gone.

Last edited 16 days ago by Steve Martin
Nyet to Crime!
Nyet to Crime!
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Precisely what types of crime do they discourage with their “presence”?

kab1200
kab1200
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

But where are they??? I was out in the bar area on last Sunday night, and never saw a single one! They are great at shuffling the homeless, but, the homeless just come back when they leave. We don’t need more of them, we need sheriffs walking a beat.

JF1
JF1
16 days ago

Thank you, Alex Villanueva. You deserve the position you’re in and you’re doing a great job. The same can not be said about the people that sit on our city council.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
16 days ago
Reply to  JF1

Mark my words: he’ll be voted out of his position in November 2022.

Wacky WeHo
Wacky WeHo
15 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Ah, nice – so the Dem vote rigging apparatus will be deployed. Results, guaranteed

Good to know

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
15 days ago
Reply to  Wacky WeHo

LOL. Still going with “If I lose, they cheated” in 2022?!

Losers going to lose.

Davedi
Davedi
14 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Just like Hilary said after Trump pounced her.

Christopher Roth
Christopher Roth
14 days ago
Reply to  JF1

Are you kidding? All of this has happened under his watch!

JF1
JF1
13 days ago

With our government “leaders” undermining him every step of the way. They’re more interested in letting criminals walk then putting them behind bars. And innocent, law abiding citizens pay the price.

Last edited 13 days ago by JF1
Compassionate MAGA
Compassionate MAGA
16 days ago

Homeless come to LA and specifically WeHo because their behavior is tolerated. Even welcomed. I’m just curious just how much crime and begging g has to go on before the social nutjobs have had enough? Until then lock your stuff down and hope for the best.

Manny
Manny
16 days ago

Villanueva comes through again as knowledgeable and capable. While our city council doesn’t even know where Santa Clarita is. But I’m sure some are happy they don’t.

JF1
JF1
16 days ago
Reply to  Manny

He sure does!

Christopher Roth
Christopher Roth
14 days ago
Reply to  Manny

As of today his budget hasn’t been cut at all. He has full staff and what has he given us? A department that was not held accountable for wearing masks during a pandemic. Who cares you ask? Well so many of his people were sick with the virus the had staffing shortages for months not to mention how many of the people they are sworn to protect and serve were infected because of their negligence. This entire problem has blossomed under his watch he has had all of the money and resources that he has asked for up to this… Read more »

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[…] Part 1PART ONE‘Weathervane Politics’| Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Part 2PART TWO‘We cannot be the magnet for the nation’s homeless’ | Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Par…PART […]

resident
resident
16 days ago

If Los Angeles is attracting 25% of the U.S. homeless population we are doing something wrong–it’s not just the weather that is attracting them.

I support Rick Caruso for mayor as he will likely be more effective on this issue than Karen Bass.

Villaneuva comes across as a reasonable and thoughtful man, and someone we should want in law enforcement.

Shame on Horvath, D’Amico, and Shyne for compromising our safety for their personal gain.

Promises & Yachting
Promises & Yachting
16 days ago
Reply to  resident

Wouldn’t you think homelessness would have been on Rick Caruso’s radar before he stepped into the Mayoral race with promises and no evidence? Logistically and politically he might have spearheaded an effective campaign since this hyper issue didn’t appear overnight. Where were you Rick? Basking at the Mira Mar, shopping in Palisades and shaking hands at The Grove after yachting to Europe?

Woke Witchhunt
Woke Witchhunt
16 days ago

Karen Bass, has been in Congress for a decade, and in state politics for a decade before that.

All these problems happened under her watch as a lawmaker.

Where was Karen? In Sacramento and DC, literally at the seat of power – and you blame a private individual for not effecting change?

Promises & Yachting
Promises & Yachting
16 days ago
Reply to  Woke Witchhunt

Was simply pointing out the opportunity which Caruso overlooked. Someone does not need to be an elected official in order to inspire such individuals and create a public private partnership. Did he ever pick up the phone to call Karen Bass? We’ll never know.

JF1
JF1
13 days ago
Reply to  Woke Witchhunt

Right?!!!

Last edited 13 days ago by JF1
Manny
Manny
16 days ago

Caruso wasn’t an elected official, Bass has been.

Promises & Yachting
Promises & Yachting
16 days ago
Reply to  Manny

How about setting up a conference call with Sheriff Villanueva and Karen Bass to move things forward. After all they are both up for election. You could be a hero!

Manny
Manny
16 days ago

Huh?

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
15 days ago
Reply to  Manny

Yeah, huh? Deflect, divert, deny are the verbs employed by these folks who can’t take responsibility.

Davedi
Davedi
14 days ago
Reply to  Manny

And he was ahead by about 10 points in the polls but low and behold she pulled ahead with mail in ballots. We really need to go back to in person voting but that’ wouldn’t help Bass would it?

Last edited 14 days ago by Davedi
kab1200
kab1200
6 days ago

Wow, so just because he is running for Mayor, you are questioning his philanthropy? He has his own foundation. https://caruso.com/family-foundation/

JF1
JF1
13 days ago
Reply to  resident

Yes, shame on Horvath, D’Amico and Shyne. And Bass has been part of the same political group that has let homelessness skyrocket. I say give Caruso a chance. He’s shown he’s capable of getting things done and isn’t interested in pandering to identity politics.

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