In light of the recent unsettling and disturbing LA City Council fiasco, which involves three city council members and a labor union leader spewing racial hate and homophobic remarks in a secret recording made public by the Los Angeles Times, it is finally time for the public and community leaders to take a stand against rogue public servants that violate and hurt the public trust.

While the LA City Council scandal is just the tip of the iceberg, there are other prominent public offices that have gone rogue and unchecked by the public and the constituent communities that put them in office.  One of these offices is the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). In recent history, this law enforcement office has not only violated the public trust, but it has also infringed the rights and safety of the community it’s supposed to be protecting and serving.

 Backed by over 120 community and social justice organizations, including the ACLU and the Latino Equality Alliance, Measure A in the upcoming LA County November election is intended to correct the systemic abuse of power by the LASD by making the department and its highest elected officer accountable to the community. Meaningful community oversight is long overdue to keep this law enforcement agency in check and protect the community from Sheriffs who violate the law and the public trust.

What this means to LA County Residents:

  • It creates necessary safeguards to protect against Sheriffs who abuse power and violate civilians’ rights and jeopardize public safety. Currently, there are no accountability measures to discipline or remove a rogue Sheriff.
  • It authorizes the removal of a Sheriff if they commit serious violations of the public trust, such as breaking the law, stealing county funds, or obstructing investigations into deputy misconduct.
  • It establishes anti-corruption and anti-violence measures for the department and its deputies. 

Current Sheriff Villanueva and his predecessors have continuously and historically allowed the perpetual and systemic retaliatory harassment of Sheriff’s deputies against grieving families whose loved ones were killed or hurt by deputies, as well as protestors and journalists exercising their First Amendment rights. 

The Sheriff’s Office has single-handedly violated the public’s trust and created a hostile environment that puts civilian public safety in jeopardy. Unlike some LA City Council Members, most Sheriffs will not step down on their own after questionable behavior and removal requires costly recall elections that have proven time and time again that they are ineffective in removing them from office.

There has been an increase in shootings and killings under Sheriff Villanueva’s watch primarily due to his lack of action against well-known and well-documented deputy gangs. The fact is that Sheriff Villanueva’s inaction has perpetrated tremendous violence and civil rights violations against community members.

Measure A provides a more direct means to remove a sheriff who is violating the law and endangering the public’s safety without the time and expense of a recall election or waiting until the next election. With this law in place, future Sheriffs will know that they cannot violate the law and people’s rights without actionable consequences. 

Boyle Heights Beat welcomes and encourages opinion pieces on a diverse range of topics from members of our community. Boyle Heights Beat does not necessarily support or endorse the opinions expressed by the author.

Marco Antonio Gonzalez is the Founder and Proprietor of MaGO! PR and Board Chair of the Latino Equality Alliance. He holds a Master’s degree in Communications Management from USC’s Annenberg School...

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