Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he has no working relationship with left-wing District Attorney George Gascón and has only spoken to him once since the George Soros-funded candidate won his race last fall.
Villanueva, who has long been a critic of Gascón, says his policies are emboldening groups like Antifa and the “anarchist crowd” as well as others who also engage in criminal activity because they don’t believe the DA will hold them accountable.
The sheriff made his comments as Los Angeles braces for new violence and potential rioting stemming from police-involved shootings around the country, as well as a forthcoming verdict in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial involving George Floyd.
“If there is a lack of prosecutorial fist, that might actually embolden some of our Antifa, anarchist crowd, the radical elements, to try to hijack peaceful protest for their own personal gain or agendas,” Villanueva told FOX11.
He went on to say that he’s only spoken to Gascón on the phone once since the DA took office.
Gascón is a former police officer as well as an attorney who served as San Francisco’s DA from 2011 to 2019. He was an assistant police chief for the LAPD and served as police chief in Mesa, Ariz., from 2006 to 2009. He also led San Fran’s police department between 2009 and 2011.
He took office last fall amid nationwide protests and demonstrations following Floyd’s death that many believe were hijacked by anarchist groups pushing a separate agenda.
In an open letter to the LAPD, the newly elected DA warned that he has a “profound intolerance” for dishonest officers.
“Those who engage in unconstitutional policing have severely hindered the standing and safety of us all,” he wrote at the time. “We are all scarred by their misdeeds, leading many in our communities to perceive police as persecutors instead of protectors.”
At the time, he also laid out his reform-minded agenda, which included getting rid of cash bail requirements even for suspects accused of serious and violent crimes and not seeking the death penalty for any offense.
He also created a ‘use of force’ board to examine police-involved shootings dating back to 2012, and moved to reopen four cases right off the bat, Bill Melugin of FOX11 reported at the time.
“You can expect that I will work to reduce incarceration and punishment except in those circumstances in which punishment is proportional, is in the community’s best interest, and serves a rehabilitative or restorative purpose,” he noted after taking office.
But Villanueva says the DA’s reforms aren’t working and, in fact, appear to be contributing to an increase in criminal activity.
“It’s not working. It has dire consequences for victims of crime,” he told FOX11.
“Yes, there is consequence when you eliminate consequences. He issues 10 commandments, special directives, expects the entire world to just go with it, promises somehow it’s going to work, well it’s not working,” the sheriff added.
Gascón’s policies have already come under fire and legal scrutiny. In February, a judge ruled that his policy of ending sentencing enhancements — for example, sentencing people to additional time behind bars if they used a gun during the commission of their crime — was illegal.
Enhancements, a legacy of the “tough-on-crime” era, are a principal driver of excessive sentences & mass incarceration.
CA enacted over 100 enhancements which are outdated, incoherent, & applied unfairly.
To end mass incarceration in LA we will cease filing ALL enhancements.
— George Gascón (@GeorgeGascon) December 7, 2020
In addition, Gascón now faces a recall, as organizers push to gather the necessary 800,000 signatures to get it on the fall ballot.
“A lot of victims have come forward and said they feel threatened by his policies, so this is a victim- and community-led effort,’ Siannah Collado, a member of the Recall George Gascon campaign, said, according to the Daily Mail.
“I agree there needs to be some reform, but the pendulum has swung too far left. Now victims are last and criminals come first,” Collado added.
Villanueva agreed with that, saying, “There are ways we can reform the criminal justice system in the places that need to be fixed. There is a way to do it properly where you incorporate all the stakeholders.”
He added: “We want him to be successful but it can’t come at the expense of public safety, at the expense of victims of crime.”
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