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County board delays decision over future of Sheriff Villanueva


The Board of Supervisors has postponed a decision about whether it will consider avenues to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva from his post before voters have a chance to do so in 2022.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl had recommended that the board round up its lawyers, inspector general, civilian oversight commissioners and acting CEO to look at options for removing or impeaching the sheriff.

“Under the current sheriff, hard-fought vital progress is being undone, and community trust is rapidly eroding,’’ their motion states. “While the board has been able to navigate challenging times with previous sheriffs, this sheriff’s actions demonstrate the dire need to explore options for removing a sheriff who refuses oversight or, at a minimum, mitigating damages cause by unacceptable behavior.’’

However, when the matter came up for discussion, Ridley-Thomas said he was concerned that his colleagues had not had sufficient time to consider the motion, which was brought as a “green sheet’’ item, added to the agenda after the bulk of the board’s business.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger indicated her opposition to the motion would not change when it comes up for reconsideration in two weeks.

“Understand that I still stand by my belief that the sheriff is elected, and that in 2022, unless there’s (an) … effort to vacate that seat prior to that, that’s where the voters have a right,’’ Barger said, apparently allowing for the possibility of a recall campaign.

Supervisor Janice Hahn seemed to signal that she would also be a no vote. In addressing a related motion calling for an investigation into the deputy-involved shooting of a patient at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center shortly before the Villanueva matter was taken up, Hahn emphasized, “This one I can support.’’

The board did unanimously agree to direct the inspector general to investigate the Harbor-UCLA shooting and directed county attorneys to report back on how the board might restrict the presence of law enforcement officers in county hospitals.