LA Progressive Blasts McDonnell for Failure to Participate in LASD Reforms

We will catch you up on a ton of LASD headlines in the next day or so (still catching up ourselves from vacation!), but here is another important article out today:

The Los Angeles Progressive–while not our cup of tea politically–is an important LA political blog. So it’s noteworthy they blasted Sheriff McDonnell for his pathetic failure to participate in the debate around LASD’s future Saturday, opting (as usual) to speak to friendly audiences (not just EPC), instead of ones with information, backbone or the freedom to disagree without fear of reprisal.

As we reported Saturday, McDonnell’s refusal to participate in an ACLU-moderated debate is cynical cowardice–but emblematic of how he operates. Either you agree with (and praise) him or you’re part of the problem. That’s why he’s grown his career through appointed positions (or by running for office against a felon) and why he has no interest whatsoever in participating in the democratic process now.

Refusing to stand tall for your decisions would rightfully be a fireable offense for a deputy. It should be for the sheriff, too.

But Sheriff McDonnell has always been a special snowflake.

Debates are about ideas–and a candidate’s ability to articulate or defend them. They’re about leadership. They’re about transparency.

Transparency starts with showing up for debates,” Alex Villanueva told the debate audience Saturday.

“Change won’t happen overnight,’ the LA Progressive observed.

“But it starts November 6th,” Villanueva concluded.

Check the article out here.

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Sheriff McDonnell Refuses to Debate, Refuses to Lead

After three weeks on vacation, LASD.News is back in business. We have a whole slew of news to catch you up on, but first let’s start with news out today:

The elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County again demonstrated the deep contempt with which he holds the department, those who want to improve the department, anybody who disagrees with him for that matter, the African American and Hispanic communities, the local media, the faith community, and the community more generally when he once again refused to participate in a debate over the department’s direction … or what should be done about the future of law enforcement in California–period. 

He refused to debate, his campaign strategist essentially told the LA Times, because challenger Alex Villanueva is mean to him. Because McDonnell disagrees with what Villanueva has to say, and since we all know McDonnell doesn’t like being disagreed with, or having his inaccurate statements called out, he’d rather not put himself in that position.

An empty chair stood in his place. A metaphor for so many things.

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This should be disqualifying. In our view, it is. What a pathetic “leader”. What a hack. A coward. It’s disgusting we’re led by such an entitled, empty suit.

It would be one thing if Alex Villanueva were pulling 1% of the vote. He isn’t. A majority of primary voters felt LASD was going in the wrong direction. Expected to pull 3% of the vote, Villanueva received nearly 35%; he received the endorsement of LASD’s largest union. And he is talking about issues department members and the community care about, which McDonnell is not. McDonnell is literally counting on the power of incumbency and voter apathy to let him eek in another unproductive term (before his establishment friends can bump him up to some appointed state or federal gig where he doesn’t have to slum it with voters or people like you ever again).

McDonnell did not participate in a single debate during the primary. He did attend one debate with Villanueva earlier this summer and reviews of both were decidedly mixed. McDonnell apparently decided not to subject himself to scrutiny since—though he does make himself available to friendly (generally supplicant) audiences.

McDonnell is counting on his mainly white, coastal voting base (who he was courting today) saying, in effect, “Let’s vote for the old-school guy with the crappy record, who likes to play dress-up but who doesn’t bother to show up, who has few new ideas [McDonnell], because he’s been a rank-chaser longer than the guy who dedicated his life to LA County, who is showing up [Villanueva] and who does have interesting, progressive ideas.”

Based on what? Why? An Irish accent? Would you really vote for an incompetent person because he has more experience than the person who is offering specific ideas how to do a better job?

As the LA Times wrote Saturday, McDonnell instead spent the morning campaigning in uniform at an event in Long Beach.

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“I’m disgusted,” a woman in the audience told the Times. “I feel McDonnell doesn’t respect the voters.”

That woman made time to attend the forum–to our knowledge, the ONLY remaining debate before the election. KPCC moderator Frank Stoltze made time to attend the forum. The ACLU made time to attend the forum. Maya Lau from the LA Times made to time attend the forum. The dozens of people in the room made time. The elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County refused–so he could instead talk to a friendly crowd on the beach.

McDonnell claims to be a reformer; he loves to hold others to account, yet refuses to stand tall himself.

Pathetic.

To watch the debate–such as it was–for yourself, you can do so here:

Reformer Villanueva and Incumbent McDonnell Interviewed by Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Candidates for sheriff Alex Villanueva and Jim McDonnell recently sat for roughly 18-minute video interviews with the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

Overall, McDonnell seemed pretty annoyed to have to be there, but he answered the student reporter’s questions gamely. It was the usual unspecific, “but-when-you-look-at”, stay-the-course, “couldn’t be prouder” song and dance. Click here to see McDonnell’s interview.

For his part, Villanueva cast McDonnell as “an angry old man” who, like the Wizard of Oz, makes confident declarations that informed people know just aren’t true. That crime is down (when it’s up); the morale is great (when it’s possibly the lowest it’s ever been); that McDonnell has accomplished so much–a “sea change!”–when even basic things within his control remain undone (such as providing an adequate number of mental health teams). Villanueva’s focus, he said, would be on fixing specific things that would dramatically improve LASD’s culture and performance: getting rid of probationary employees who aren’t up to the job, rather than the current practice of going-along-to-get-along and making them somebody else’s problem.  He spoke of specific ways he would improve community relations, particularly with the communities of color that supported him so strongly during the primary election. To see Villanueva’s interview, click here.

While he doesn’t yet have quite the polish McDonnell has from four years as a politician, Villanueva’s answers strike us as specific, while McDonnell’s were, as always, vague, or just wrong, or put in the rosiest light. After watching both these interviews, it’s easy to see which candidate thinks things are going just great and which has the passion and commitment to change.

In just over two months, we’ll find out what the voters are looking for.

 

Two Deputy Involved Shootings Happened Friday (SLA & CPT)

Deputies at South Los Angeles and Compton Stations were each involved in shootings on Friday after separate short vehicle pursuits.

The first shooting occurred in Lennox where deputies stopped a vehicle around 1 a.m. Upon approaching the vehicle, its driver put the car into reverse and rammed the deputies with the car, injuring one deputy. The deputies gave chase and the suspect crashed. The suspect was armed with a handgun and a deputy-involved shooting occurred. The suspect was hit several times and transported to the hospital. Here’s more on the story from channel 5.

The Compton shooting occurred around 11:20 p.m. after deputies pursued a suspected drunk driver. The vehicle crashed, the occupants fled, and a shooting occurred. It doesn’t seem anybody was hit. Channel 5 also has more on this story.

 

LASD Allows Reserve Deputies To Carry Off-Duty Without a CCW

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reversed its stance Thursday on requiring reserve deputies (other than those with full-time peace officer status) to obtain a concealed weapon permit in order to defend themselves. In deciding to finally honor the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2004 (known as “LEOSA”), LASD has determined that reserve deputies–who complete the same training and wear the same uniform as any full time deputy–no longer need to obtain a concealed weapons permit.

Though the timing of this move just two months before an election in which Sheriff McDonnell needs the financial and political support of wealthy and connected LASD reserves is suspicious, this is nonetheless welcome news to many.

The new reading of a law in effect since 2004 dramatically simplifies what has long been a CCW issuance process rife with differing standards, confusion and politically/financially-motivated abuse. In fact, at many stations reserves were not issued CCWs until they were off patrol training (which could take years) resulting in an unwritten and unsaid understanding that reserves working or traveling through high-crime areas (such as Los Angeles County) may just need to feloniously carry illegally until they were blessed with a CCW. Indeed, over the past year LASD.News understands many reserves have had their CCW applications returned to them for additional justification of their need to defend themselves; some have been denied outright. Also, as we previously reported, a number of retired deputies stated their CCWs had been revoked due to arm/hand injuries or because they retired due to stress-related reasons (presumably from engaging in just the kind of policework that would result in needing a CCW).

Federal and state laws on the issue of CCWs and who can carry what where differ so much that sometimes the safest solution is the most liberal. After all, a strict CCW policy then begs all kinds of questions over who is getting CCWs and who isn’t and why and why not, and what liability exists for who when someone gets into something. And that seems to be at play here, where, according to a letter from Sheriff McDonnell to reserves, LASD is both extending LEOSA coverage to reserves and encouraging them nonetheless to apply for a CCW anyway. No specific reason is given, so the lawyers were clearly at play here.

Why the change (however welcome it is)? We’re not sure. And a letter issued by Sheriff McDonnell on Thursday doesn’t say. Here are some possibilities:

The change was probably pushed for by the Reserve Leadership Team (led by big-time McDonnell donor/backer) Alan Skobin …who may or may not have been the only reserve to be issued a county car. (We don’t know for certain because the department has still not responded to public record requests on this from multiple requestors three months later…)

It never made a lot of sense for reserves to need a CCW when they were covered by LEOSA since 2004 (though there are certain instances where a CCW may still be helpful, such as when an off-duty reserve carries a gun onto school grounds).

Whatever the Reserve Leadership Team’s role was, LASD.News suspects a bigger reason is the onslaught of public record requests the Department has received in recent months over which LASD reserves and members of the public (mainly judges and prosectors) have active CCWs in 2018. Here is a list of CCWs LASD approved in the first five months of this year.

Perhaps this site’s prior reporting on the decline of the reserve program under Sheriff McDonnell has had something to do with efforts to improve it, as well as to recruit reserves, that have been announced in the past few months.

It is also likely that legal action apparently threatened against the Department by media organizations and the California Reserve Peace Officers Association (which all LASD reserves should join) forced McDonnell to take a step he could have taken any time in the last four years.

Which brings us to the timing of this decision. Coming two months before a close election, and as LASD.News receives unconfirmed reports of Sheriff McDonnell soliciting reserve deputies for campaign contributions in a dramatic break from his practice four years ago of not accepting money from deputies, the timing of throwing reserves a bone is certainly suspicious.

It will be important to keep an eye on McDonnell’s campaign contributions. Though of course we may not see all the campaign finance reporting until after the election…

If you are an LASD employee and have been hit up by Sheriff McDonnell or his team for a donation or to throw a fundraiser, please let us know at tips@lasd.news

This article will be updated as we learn more.

Deputy Pleads Guilty To Drug Trafficking

Deputy Kenneth Collins, who was arrested earlier this year, pled guilty Monday to a charge of drug trafficking after being caught by the FBI offering to use his LASD badge to escort narcotics across state lines. The Los Angeles Times has the story.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in November.

Ironically, Collins met one of his co-conspirators, Grant Valencia, while Collins was an instructor in the “Emerging Leaders Academy”–a program to help criminals turn their lives around. Valencia was his student.

“Law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold the law, which is why we hold them to a higher standard of conduct… Deputy Collins didn’t just break the law, he trampled his oath by agreeing to sell his badge to assist drug traffickers,” U.S. attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement.

Collins grew up in South Central Los Angeles, served in the U.S. military, then joined the Sheriff’s Department and was assigned to Lennox Station, though LNX deputies told LASD.News they could hardly remember him and shake their heads at his actions. Collins was most recently assigned to Countywide Services Bureau, before he left the department shortly after his January arrest.