L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is Kicking Butt and Taking Names

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department via AP

I am not sure what has happened to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, but his law and order backbone seems to have gotten a steroid injection.

Look back at 2020. Villanueva was blindsided by a staff exodus, complaints of his handling of the pandemic response, including his shuttering gun stores as nonessential, and the heavy-handed enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown policies, and his battles with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over officer-involved civilian shootings and other tensions surrounding the Board of Supervisors wanting to micromanage and reimagine policing, that did not sit well with the newly-elected Sheriff. Two L.A. Supervisors, Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas, mounted a campaign to change the County Charter to make the Sheriff an appointed position rather than elected and even called for Villanueva to resign.

The pandemic revealed the hypocrisy and fraudulent motives and actions of both of these Supervisors, and their efforts to unseat him and change the County Charter were tabled. Since May of 2020, Los Angeles County has seen a rise in violent crime, including an ambush attack on two Sheriff’s deputies, which Villanueva handled with swiftness and strength, standing by his deputies, and condemning the attacks on law enforcement.

These events, among others, have given space for Villanueva to go through a renaissance of sorts—and he’s taking full advantage of it, by not only becoming more badass, but more community-oriented.

The Sheriff is kicking ass and taking names. Something unprecedented in Los Angeles County, particularly in this highly political position.

Villanueva has been making the rounds with media outlets as a prominent face and voice for the Victims of Violent Crime for the Recall of District Attorney George Gascón. Villanueva recently spoke with the Epoch Times: California Insider, to make clear why he opposed this D.A.:

“In normal times you’re supposed to have a district attorney that represents the people. You have a public defender, an alternative public defender, their supposed to represent the defendant in any court proceeding. And between the two sides, that’s how justice is carried out on behalf of the people, and protecting the constitutional rights of the defendant. We have a district attorney who is acting also like a public defender, there’s no one left representing the people. I need to work in partnership with someone who is representing the people—I don’t have that right now.”

Villanueva has also been vociferously vocal about the handling of the exploding homelessness in Los Angeles County. He has personally walked the most cancerous areas, like Venice Beach, to work with the businesses and residents towards mitigation strategies, and how re-homing and cleanup of the area can be accomplished compassionately.

Villanueva is making it clear that if public officials will not pursue concrete action, his department will:

“I can only sit on the sidelines for so long, waiting patiently for the city and county to do something about homelessness. It’s time to compassionately reclaim and regulate public space for the community.”

The Sheriff made similar claims in the California Insider interview, and blasted the politicians who are supposed to be responsible for resolving the issue:

“It’s the people who can least afford it who are going to be the most prejudiced by this.

“We are enabling and condoning deviant behavior. And it’s only getting worse. What used to be considered deviant now is becoming normalized.

“The climate is getting so bad that we are losing control of some of the basic functions of a civil society. And that is a cold, calculated decision from people who are in charge, or supposed to be in charge, who decided, that the best course of action was to not do anything. But they’re going to do a study, they’re going to do a plan, they’re going to hire consultants, get this blue-ribbon commission, and they’ll report on that in a year. Preferably after the election is over. And the problem is just going to get bigger, and bigger, and bigger.

“It’s like a third world country; people in charge, don’t seem to care.”

Villanueva has recently been raising the alarm on the doubling crime rate from 2020 to 2021. Homicides alone are up 95 percent from the previous year.

Fox News’ Bill Melugin further reported that because of this crime surge, the Sheriff would work to increase the issuance of concealed-carry permits (CCW):

“Sheriff Villanueva said LASD will not move to a shall issue standard where ‘anyone who can fog a mirror’ gets a CCW, but LASD will be increasing staffing to process “good cause” CCW permits in recognition of increasing danger to public.”

Anecdotally, I can attest that this is happening. At a gun training I attended a month ago, the instructor said that L.A. County has been issuing CCW permits within 21 days on receipt of the application. The unfettered issuance of CCWs has been unheard of for decades, let alone in a 21-day period. With the renewed community-orientation of this Sheriff, it appears Villanueva is looking to level the playing field between the criminals and the law-abiding public, especially with the hue and cry of defund the police, and the threatened cuts in funding to law enforcement within the County.

To put criminal enforcement action behind his words, Villanueva’s latest badass move has been the Sheriff’s Department’s partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Yesterday, the joint operation took down an international drug cartel operation of illegal marijuana growers in the Antelope Valley, a huge swath of high desert roughly 43 miles north of downtown Los Angeles:

The local CBS 2 News reported:

Video of the operation showed deputies removing weed plants and bulldozing a 75-greenhouse grow that covered 10 acres of ground in Lancaster.

According to the sheriff’s department, 23 arrests were made, five firearms were seized, two water trucks were recovered and marijuana worth millions of dollars was seized from greenhouses. Deputies also rescued seven mixed-breed dogs including four puppies that were placed in the care of a nonprofit dog rescue organization.

This was not only an enforcement effort, but a humanitarian one. The cartel crime affects quality of life not just for humans, but the sweet animals that were rescued, and the wildlife that populates this desert landscape.

Villanueva said more than two dozen search warrants had been served with more to come. He said the illegal operations were not only dangerous, but we hurting the environment as well.

“The amount of trash, debris, the pesticides, the chemicals that are used go right into the environment, gets into the food chain, affects all our wildlife, our critters,” he said. “The trash is strewn for miles and the wind carries it throughout the desert and the impact of it is incalculable.”

Villanueva did more to aid the climate and environment of California than any of Governor Gavin Newsom’s diktats toward that end. If the Sheriff keeps this up, his re-election will be a cakewalk.