Sebastian Hughes, DCNF
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva called out city officials on Wednesday during a briefing for not taking the county’s crime spikes seriously.
Villanueva pointed to a 94% increase in homicides and a 59% increase in grand theft auto instances over two years as a high concern, lamenting that he has been unable to get the Board of Supervisors to address the problem.
“I say those are the two glaring numbers because, obviously, they’re definitely going in the wrong direction,” Villanueva said. “To date, I’ve yet to have the Board of Supervisors acknowledge this massive increase in criminal homicide. They won’t acknowledge it.”
He cited a number of reasons for the jump, including the pandemic, but laid much of the blame on the district attorney and the policies being implemented, such as the city’s zero-bail policy and Proposition 47, which recategorized a number of offenses, including shoplifting that does not exceed $950 as misdemeanors, as opposed to felonies.
The Board of Supervisors was also accused of being partially responsible for the increase in inmate assaults on prison staff and other inmates. Villanueva said the board’s budget cuts resulted in “1,000 positions that were removed from the county jail system.”
“They were trying to force a closure of a jail, which was wildly inappropriate, and at the same time with a lack of staffing that did not allow us for the opportunity to do out-of-cell time for individual inmates,” he said.
“We’re on a path to engage in legal conflict with the Board of Supervisors because now the level of defunding has reached a level … it’s starting to threaten the constitutionality of our care that we’re providing our inmates in the jail system,” he added.
Villanueva also lambasted MTA Board Chair Hilda Solis for her calls to “increase homelessness outreach and decrease the presence of law enforcement on the transit system,” after bringing up a Jan. 13 incident where a 70-year-old nurse was allegedly killed by a homeless person while waiting for the bus.
He went after the Los Angeles Metro Public Safety Advisory Committee for a list of recommendations it released on Jan. 14, including advising law enforcement not to interact with “any unhoused individual on the Metro system.”
“That’s frightening,” he said, noting that the alleged suspect thought to have stabbed 24-year-old graduate student Brianna Kupfer frequently rode the Metro and was homeless. “And I guess law enforcement shouldn’t contact him.”
After reading the recommendation that a contractor shouldn’t share intelligence with any local, state or federal law enforcement agencies, Villanueva said such actions might actually “run afoul of federal law” because communication is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks on transit systems.
“What on earth are these people thinking? Lord Jesus,” he said.
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