Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and of a civilian commission that oversees the sheriff’s department have called on Sheriff Alex Villanueva to resign.
Civilian Oversight Commission member Robert Bonner, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, was the first to call on Villanueva to step down during a commission meeting Thursday.
“It’s with great reluctance that I’m calling for Sheriff Villanueva to resign,” Bonner said. “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department itself deserves better. The men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deserve better.”
The commission expressed doubt over the sheriff’s version of events leading to the arrest of a local reporter and asked county attorneys to prepare a report on legal responsibilities involved in law enforcement activities at protests.
The commission could take an official “no-confidence” vote on the sheriff at its next meeting.
Later Thursday, Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas said they support calls for Villanueva to resign.
“Like the members of the Civilian Oversight Commission, I remain troubled by the Sheriff’s conduct and the way he has interfered with advancing reform and enhancing accountability,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.
Kuehl told the Los Angeles Times Villanueva costs the county millions of dollars in claims of excessive force by members of the department.
“He is really a rogue sheriff,” Kuehl said. “It is really important for this sheriff to understand that his behavior, his violation of any of the common rules that govern a law enforcement agency, is the greatest threat to public safety.”
Both supervisors have been critical of Villanueva in the past.
Villanueva brushed aside the comments, calling the commission a “political body appointed by the Board of Supervisors,” with whom the sheriff has repeatedly clashed on budget and other issues.
“They’re just part of the echo chamber of the board,” the sheriff said. “And unfortunately, the route they take is not one that’s going to engender goodwill … between myself or the organization, because there’s a fine line being a watchdog and an attack dog, a political attack dog.”