Tag: Jim McDonnell

LA Times Takes Aim at LASD Misconduct and Peace Officer Bill of Rights

The Los Angeles Times has published four hard-hitting articles in the last three days taking examining misconduct by Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs, taking square aim at changing California’s police officer privacy laws.

It is unclear whether the Times has made this a priority by itself or whether it is being secretly encouraged by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who has been angling to undermine the Peace Officer Bill of Rights for years. McDonnell has been unsuccessful in his quest under existing law, so perhaps he’s going about it another way. After all, it was less than a year ago that PPOA President Brian Moriguchi called for an investigation into whether Sheriff McDonnell or his “Constitutional Policing” or media handlers intentionally and illegally leaked personnel information to the Times(Was this crime investigated?)

Here is a good legal analysis of the issues.

Then again, some of those accused of misconduct are part of McDonnell’s own command staff, who have apparently been granted grace not afforded to ordinary deputies.

On the other hand, it’s also unclear whether the Times is finally revisiting McDonnell’s absurd claim, and the Times’ prior agreement, that he has single-handedly engineered a “sea change in culture” within the LASD despite his deep unpopularity within the organization.

Here are the articles the Times has come out with since Thursday:

Thursday: An L.A. County deputy faked evidence. Here’s how his misconduct was kept secret in court for years

Thursday: You’ve been arrested by a dishonest cop. Can you win in a system set up to protect officers?

Friday: This L.A. sheriff’s deputy was a pariah in federal court. But his secrets were safe with the state

Saturday: Why do some L.A. sheriff’s deputies have matching skull tattoos? It’s a question Compton residents have been asking for years

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LASD.News’ Opinion: We don’t know whether officer privacy laws / the Peace Officer Bill of Rights needs to be changed or not. As easy as it is to get information about people these days, and with a bloody history of officers being followed or confronted at their homes, there are certainly safety reasons to preserve POBR.

While the Times has identified many cases of real or alleged misconduct it would have liked to know about, and defense attorneys would have liked to know about–we don’t think it has established that the prior misconduct was actually relevant in the subsequent cases. For example, in the first story, the Times cites many lawyers and criminal suspects who would have been glad to use the deputy’s prior misconduct to angle for a lighter sentence or dismissal, when their actual guilt and the evidence in their cases does not seem to be in doubt.

As a journalistic and opinionated outfit ourselves, we understand the Times’ desire for access to officer personnel files. (Are journalists offering up their personnel files, too? Will LASD “executives” be wearing body cams?) But we are not yet convinced that the desired transparency will benefit anyone other than reporters who want to tell interesting stories, criminals who want to get out of jail, and the defense attorneys who want to help them. We look forward to the Times’ editorial board’s big reveal as to what exactly they are proposing.

Everyone makes mistakes in their life and career. While police officers have tremendous public trust placed in them and misconduct should be dealt with, criminals and their attorneys are looking for whatever will establish reasonable doubt in the least intelligent member of a jury. Or suggest to a busy deputy district attorney that a slam-dunk case will become a hassle and should be dismissed or pled.

Allowing criminals, defense attorneys and reporters to go on fishing expeditions through officers’ past and cherry-pick tidbits that benefit their own agendas will have many consequences which should be fiercely debated.

 

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McDonnell Throws Tantrum After Union Endorses Villanueva for Sheriff

Struggling Sheriff Jim McDonnell flashed the anger, contempt and casual relationship with the truth he is known for Wednesday in responding to LASD’s largest union endorsing his challenger, retired Lieutenant Alex Villanueva.

In a graceless statement posted to his Facebook page, McDonnell said:

I’m not surprised by the announcement made by the Board of Directors of ALADS today. By endorsing my opponent, ALADS has endorsed a candidate who has publicly opposed the reforms underway that have reduced jail violence and increased accountability. He would take the Department backwards to a time of chaos and corruption like it was under Baca and Tanaka.

I have come in and implemented accountability measures and the ALADS Board has taken issue with that, and I am not going to apologize for holding accountable those who tarnish the badge.

Thousands of individual deputies and civilian personnel have indeed worked hard to earn back the trust of the public after many years of crisis. I do not believe the ALADS Board of Directors speaks for the overwhelming number of Deputies who are active partners in moving the Department forward. Together, we have a responsibility to make Los Angeles County as safe as possible while continuing to earn the public’s trust every day.

What an astonishingly passive-aggressive, dishonest, bridge-burning, and childish bunch of nonsense. Had ALADS endorsed him, McDonnell would’ve instead been talking about how honored and humbled he was for their support and partnership.

In other words: you don’t think I’m doing awesome so you’re part of the problem.

This sort of denial and blame-shifting wouldn’t be tolerated of a deputy sheriff trainee in the academy; we absolutely shouldn’t tolerate it from the elected sheriff. He’s had four years to learn our standards. This is Phase 1 roll-up behavior.

Is it any wonder McDonnell’s community relations are so fraid? That he was absent from much of the community for the last four years until, surprised into a runoff, he’s running around hat-in-hand, begging for money from wealthy West Siders? That he views the Citizens Oversight commission as his liaison to the community rather than an actual oversight panel?

Can you imagine if this guy were your boss and you had to disagree with him? (Demoted Captain Chris Brackpool can.)

What is this, Russia?

Petulant as McDonnell’s statement is, it’s a window into how his Father Knows Best mindset reacts when a partner dares to challenge him. No wonder suck-ups and sycophants have done so well promoting under McDonnell, especially all the Tanaka-acolytes who so quickly changed their colors?

McDonnell’s statement is completely unhinged.

Here are the facts:

  • Jim McDonnell has accomplished very little in four years as sheriff. Crime is up, proactive police work is way down, morale is probably the lowest its ever been, chancing arbitrary and career-altering/ending discipline by ambitious middle-managers and self-styled “executives” is viewed as a risk of showing up for work, acting with integrity is viewed as an act of foolishness, while the executive ranks themselves are riddled with suck ups and people with extensive records of misconduct (some quite recent).
  • Alex Villanueva hasn’t opposed significant reforms because McDonnell has neither made significant reforms nor even suggested what they might be. All he talks about is implementing systems of processes of layers of paper-pushers (all wearing brass belt buckles and sewn-down epaulettes, of course; all telling him how great he is). And this is without even getting to the 300 admin staff he says he’d need to run a body cam program.
  • In fact, the only major McDonnell “reform” LASD.News can recall Villanueva opposing was releasing an informal list of deputies previously accused of having integrity issues to the District Attorney’s office (the so-called “Brady List”), including its apparently intentional and criminal leak to the media. And the reason Villanueva has given for disagreeing is not that he opposes the list in principle but because the list is not accurate–it includes people who don’t even know they’re on it or why they would be; it includes people who were bullied into accepting a punishment that without their knowledge landed them on the list rather than risk loss of pay while fighting an internal case; indeed the Los Angeles Times has itself reported that deputies have been removed from the list after someone realized they were there in error. That McDonnell is comfortable needlessly and perhaps falsely tarnishing peoples’ reputations to achieve the appearance of having achieved something says more about him than it does about anyone else.
  • Actually, Villanueva has campaigned extensively on the assertion that McDonnell’s reforms have been fake in effect, not that they’ve been wrong in intent.
  • Indeed, under McDonnell’s leadership numerous deputies have been arrested or convicted of crimes, firings have gone through the roof (as have reinstatements through the legal system and back-pay awards), including firings of “executives” McDonnell sought to defend one day and kicked out the window the next. As any deputy knows, firing is viewed internally now as a management stunt easily and often entered into to make the lawyers happy and “leaders” look good, with the understanding that the legal appellate process will do the actual managing.
  • By the way, anyone know what’s going on with Todd Rogers’ civil suit against McDonnell alleging he was retaliated against after the last election? Did the County settle that one yet?
  • And speaking of integrity issues, what does it take for McDonnell to end up on his own Brady List, with all his own false statements? Such as when he told the media last year that no uses of force had been recorded on deputies’ personally-owned body cams (which they have bought due to his refusal to distribute them)? Or his claiming above that an “overwhelming number of deputies” support him in “moving the Department forward” when, in fact, 97% of deputies voted their lack of confidence in McDonnell? Or his many false statements to reporter Annie Gilbertson in her REPEAT Podcast (especially episodes 5 and 6)? He must know what he is saying is false, but he’s saying it so his LA-establishment backers who don’t know how failed and unpopular he is, who will simply take his word for it.
  • While McDonnell claims to be a reformer, in fact he hasn’t gotten much done–other than gorging on the vain perks of his office: his $2 million luxury SUV and entourage, the hats and jackets and uniforms and brass buckles and the decals, LASD’s new theme song (which deputies can listen to when the countywide radio system crashes), the travel, and the use of county resources for campaign purposes, and the mountain retreats, to say nothing of his nearly half-million dollars in annual taxpayer-funded compensation.
  • McDonnell’s attitude–and that of his supporters–seems to be that if the unions disapprove of his performance, he must be doing something right. That’s cute, except LASD’s unions endorsed him four years ago and have complained constantly since then not about McDonnell’s policy positions but mostly about his lack of vision, understanding of the organization, and his leadership. They’ve complained about his not responding when a deputy was shot in the neck because it was late at night. They’ve complained about his ineffectiveness; about his inability to recruit, about the wave of deputies immediately lateraling to other agencies, about being $200 million over budget, about detectives being put into patrol cars to achieve minimum patrol levels. The unions are raising serious concerns about a sheriff which experience is showing is not up to the job. (See, also.) You can ignore the warning light if you like, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to crash into the mountain.

Maybe this frequent commenter on the LA Times article summed it up best:

“I think Jim is the biggest let-down of ANY elected official in the last 25 years,” she said. “Now even I refer to Jim as Sheriff McBuckles. Sad. So disappointing. Jim, I hate to say this b/c I was such a huge fangurl, you had your chance and choked. Time to step aside my friend.”

Indeed. And drop the patch.

LA Times Reveals Another LASD Tattoo; What’s Really Going On Here?

The LA Times is out with another story this weekend about the discovery of yet another tattoo within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department–this time on Deputy Oleg Polissky. As anyone who has worked with Oleg knows, he’s a great cop and human being: good person, strictly business, great tactics, and a great mentor. Here he is above handing stickers out to kids (wearing, by the way, his own personally-funded body cam due to Sheriff McDonnell’s four years of feet-dragging on providing them). With the sheriff Police Chief of LA County saying he needs 239 more new administrative jobs to manage a body cam program, it’s no wonder nothing’s gotten done.

Related: Here’s a story about the issue of personally-owned body cams from a year ago. Note the absurd lie that “Deputies in L.A. have never captured any use-of-force incidents…on personally owned body cameras, McDonnell said.” That’s nonsense, which McDonnell would know if he knew what was going on within his department–but he doesn’t. (Seeing a trend here?)

Anyhow, Oleg’s a great cop. And he’s got a tattoo, which he said in a recent deposition acquired by the Times was bestowed to him by his partners at Palmdale Station because he’s a great cop. We believe it.

While McDonnell took re-election for granted during the primary (having won 75% of the vote four years ago), he couldn’t even muster 49% this time ’round–with communities of color coming out strongly against him. Now desperate for re-election, he’s promising to investigate LASD’s tattoos, as if he’s shocked–shocked!–to learn there is gambling going on in this establishment!

For our money, we think ALADS President Ron Hernandez has it right when he told the Times, “I think the department should focus more on the value of a deputy’s work product.”

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What’s really going on here?

Sheriff McDonnell has been claiming credit for turning LASD around for four years but, really, he hasn’t done much (other than destroying morale). And his confused response over this tattoo thing shows it: he says he’s single-handedly (like Moses!) engineered a sea change in the department, yet many deputies complain he’s never spent a single day working a custody block, or working a Sheriff’s Department patrol car, or understanding the culture and how it is different from the LAPD. He could have–four years ago–but he’s arrogant and thought he knew what he needed to know, so he didn’t. And now he’s left standing here like a dummy trying to explain paper over the difference between what he and his cheerleaders have been claiming and what the facts show to be true.

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Jim McDonnell’s Mythical Sea Change at the LASD Achieved by Force of Boston Accent

As for the tattoos themselves: look, LASD.News knows many deputies with tattoos. Most are great, some are zeroes who never should have been hired in the first place. Some are Department executives who are great, some are Department executives who never should have been hired (or promoted) in the first place. Focusing on the tattoos themselves isn’t helpful, but it can be a window into what is right or wrong with the culture and how the department is managed.

The reasons the tattoos are awarded are, as Polissky says, to be glue at the station-level for the standards the deputies there hold dear–beyond the lowest-common denominator behavior the Department as a massive bureaucracy must–or chooses–to tolerate. The tattoos are a way of the most respected deputies at a station inspiring people to do better than the department itself expects: “this is who we are and what we expect”. Can they be abused–or be a reward for misconduct? Absolutely, and they have been. But that is the exception, not the rule.

This is where knowing the organization and leadership come in. McDonnell doesn’t know and isn’t leading the Sheriff’s Department. He only knows what the ambitious or frightened “executives” around him tell him, and what he knows from LAPD. It’s the blind leading the ambitious or cowardly. LAPD may be a great organization in its own right, but it isn’t better than or all that comparable to the LASD. It’s not Coke and Pepsi (and, in fact, they too are very different kinds of organizations).

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Unofficial Logo of LAPD’s Newton Station
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Just Google “Shootin Newton”
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A Newton Station Alumni

Rather than earning the organization’s trust four years ago or since then, McDonnell has promoted dozens of Yes Men and Women who will enforce what he tells them to do. From his perspective, that makes sense after the chain of command was so broken under Sheriff Baca and Undersheriff Tanaka. But what he doesn’t see is he’s just replaced their Kitchen Cabinet with his own and, if he he has no credibility with the deputies, and the Yes Men promoting through the organization don’t either (because they spent a minute or less in patrol, or because people know they disagree with the sheriff but aren’t allowed to say so by policy), then he isn’t leading anybody.

What McDonnell needed to do four years ago was work in custody, work in the field, get to know the people and the culture and the issues, and to lead from a position of credibility (not resume). And this would have allowed him to speak externally about what was going on, as well as to say internally, “Hey, I know you’re doing this, and I understand it, but I am asking you to stop, or to stay within these guardrails, because it’s unhelpful to us in this way…” or whatever. McDonnell could have led. He refused. And here we are: four years down the pike, nothing to show for it.

LASD needs a sheriff that understands the organization, what needs to change, what doesn’t, how change can be achieved, and has a vision for the future. 

Sheriff’s Debate Tonight: Here Are The Details

The Professional Peace Officers Association (one of the three unions representing the LASD) is holding a debate tonight between the two remaining candidates to be your next Los Angeles County Sheriff: Alex Villanueva and Jim McDonnell.

The debate will run from 5-6:30 p.m. and be streamed on PPOA’s Facebook page.

While Villanueva and primary election challenger Bob Lindsey participated in several debates during the primary election cycle, McDonnell arrogantly blew off the debates. While he took 75% of the vote three years ago against a felon to win election, he will now have to run on his record against a long-time LASD member and reformer, a Hispanic, and someone who has found a deep well of support in the communities LASD’s relations are (the media says) most strained. Meanwhile, McDonnell’s support comes mainly from those served the least by the LASD (and the least familiar with it). A lot of wealthy white people living along the coast. Witness LA thinks it’ll be a real horse race.

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Graphic Source: LA Times

As you may remember, 97% of nearly 2,000 deputies who participated in a recent poll by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (another LASD union) voted their lack of confidence in McDonnell. PPOA President Brian Moriguchi and other board members have also been increasingly critical of the department’s accelerating decay.

Tonight’s debate will be moderated by Adrienne Alpert from ABC 7, who has interviewed McDonnell several times before (such as here and here). Other panelists will include Moriguchi, Marcel Rodarte from the Contract Cities Association, and Marjorie Green from the League of Women Voters. It will be held at LAPD headquarters (aka McDonnell’s Mothership).

For more information about the debate, click here.

PPOA will be live-streaming the debate on its Facebook page.

Times Says McDonnell Should Be Scared of Villanueva’s Strong Support

We hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th, especially everyone working the streets and cell blocks.

LASD.News was working a lot ourselves the past few days ourselves so apologizes for missing this one, but the LA Times had a long story a few days ago about Alex Villanueva’s surprisingly strong showing in the primary.

Click here to see the story.

“Had Jim McDonnell called me in February or so, I would have said, ‘What are you worried about? Look at who’s running against you. Relax,’” one political analyst told the Times. “I would have been completely wrong.”

The problem, of course, is that the analyst’s opinion would not have taken into account how much McDonnell is despised by the people who work for him, how disappointed Los Angeles County voters are by his performance, and how much they may be interested in voting for somebody younger, with fresher ideas…who isn’t another white politician.

“If I were part of the McDonnell campaign, it would certainly concern me,” another analyst told the Times. “Anytime you have spent multiples more [than an opponent] and then you end up in a runoff, it’s cause for pause and soul searching and concern.”

Except McDonnell doesn’t strike us as the soul searching kind of guy. Because he’s an aloof and arrogant kind of guy.

You can check out the story for yourself by clicking here.  But also check out this cool map the Times did of how the county voted in the primary.

While there’s a lot of McDonnell on that map (though most of it is bushes and dirt), just imagine how it might look if Lindsey backers threw their weight behind Villanueva and if Villanueva–who is a Democrat and, like Mayor Garcetti, speaks Spanish–had some money behind him.

(We think McDonnell was a Republican, is now an independent, and doesn’t habla.)

The LAPD decided 2018 wasn’t the year for a woman or a Hispanic police chief. But maybe it’s the county’s year for a Hispanic sheriff…?

Villanueva definitely seems to be the choice of the people LA’s liberals (and McDonnell himself) say LASD needs to builds better relations with.

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Alex Villanueva Forces Weakened McDonnell Into November Runoff

A dark pall fell over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday night with the news that Bob Lindsey failed in his bid to become sheriff and that the department may be saddled with four more years of Jim McDonnell, who is viewed by many as destroying the department through his mismanagement.

That was definitely the mood on election night when LASD.News was working the field. Deputies were in a state of shock and despair, unable to comprehend the emerging vote count. Many confidently asserted the count must have been rigged. Many said they didn’t know a single McDonnell supporter. One said they know knew how Hillary voters must have felt. Another deputy likened the mood inside LASD to that of a prison camp. There was talk of an “exodus” from LASD to other agencies which are aggressively recruiting, though the likelihood of this may be limited by non-compatible retirement programs.

“The results may have been ‘a double surprise’ for McDonnell, who appeared to be confident and more focused on his daily responsibilities than on his re-election campaign,” Jorja Leap, a UCLA professor affiliated with McDonnell told the Long Beach Press Telegram.

The Press Telegram continued: “Not only will there be a runoff in November but Villanueva also received one third of the vote, which is significant, Leap said. And this happened, she said, despite McDonnell’s past performance of calming the turbulence created by the previous administration of then-Sheriff Lee Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who were both sentenced in connection with a jail abuse and corruption scandal.”

LASD watchdog Surruo.com observed: “Now that the sheriff has a record he must defend until November, we are sure things are going to get bloody. Since Sheriff McDonnell can no longer hide from public debate as he has enjoyed to this point, we believe he will attempt to phony his way thru to November running on a record which has largely failed.  One only needs to read the flaccid LA Times endorsement that pointed out McDonnell’s many failures to know this sheriff is vulnerable to defeat. To Alex, nobody understands how you made second place among opponents who out spent you by a tremendous margin, but you are clearly the only choice for sheriff.  Don’t let us down.”

And indeed that seemed to be the direction of things Wednesday.

As the grieving process has moved forward, the focus has shifted to what next. What will Bob do? What will his large, enthusiastic team do? Was Villanueva’s surprise win a vindication of his campaign, or mainly his strong Democratic affiliation and non-Anglo Saxon last name? How will McDonnell respond to being in a runoff against someone six ranks his junior? How will Villanueva come off on that stage? 

Though there are few answers Wednesday night, some hints are emerging.

Professional Peace Officer Association President Brian Moriguchi posted a video Wednesday promising that PPOA would aggressively vet both candidates and throw its financial resources behind its preferred candidate.

Meanwhile, deputies brought to LASD.News’s attention a photo posted to McDonnell’s Facebook page of ALADS President Ron Hernandez from 2014. This, of course, is noteworthy given Hernandez’ refusal to take a position on the primary election, despite deputies by 97% voting no confidence in McDonnell. ALADS did not appear to have made any statement about their intentions by Wednesday night.

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In his own statement Wednesday, Villanueva seemed emboldened and confident:

“Considering the fact that Villanueva was outspent 50 to 1 by both his opponents combined, a forced runoff was a stunning upset for the embattled incumbent… Our message of ‘Reform, Rebuild, Restore’ resonated with the people of Los Angeles County,” Villanueva said (see below).

Lindsey also released a statement (also below), thanking his supporters.

In his post, Villanueva then extended an olive branch: “We appreciate the spirited campaign by Mr. Lindsey and his supporters contributions toward forcing the runoff. We both agree the Department requires a change in leadership now, a consensus confirmed by the voters.”

He concluded: “Thank you to all those who placed their faith in us and voted. And we hope by November, to earn the votes of those who did not. Again, thank you.”

McDonnell, by contrast, still had no statement posted to his campaign Facebook page by Wednesday night. Because he’s such a great leader…

We didn’t vote for Mr. Villanueva. And we encouraged you, Dear Reader, to vote for Bob Lindsey. That was then, this is now. Will Alex rise to the occasion? This is a promising, though early, start.

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