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New L.A. County undersheriff will be first woman to fill key position

LASD Chief April Tardy, from Central Patrol Division, answers questions
April Tardy, left, answers questions for attorney Sarah Moses while Sean Kennedy, chair of the county Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, listens at the third public hearing in the commission’s investigation into deputy gangs at Loyola Marymount University.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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Robert Luna has yet to be sworn in as Los Angeles County’s 34th sheriff, but he’s already making history.

On Wednesday — 110 years after the department swore in the nation’s first female deputy — Luna announced he will appoint sheriff’s department veteran April Tardy as the first woman to serve as the agency’s undersheriff once he officially assumes the office Monday.

Interim Undersheriff April Tardy.
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Her historic selection is one of two key appointments to his nascent leadership team that Luna announced this week ahead of his ceremonial swearing in, which is scheduled for Saturday morning.

“I’m proud to appoint April Tardy as interim undersheriff and Jason Skeen as interim chief of staff,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “Both of these talented and experienced law enforcement leaders share my vision of a sheriff’s department that is effective, compassionate and constitutional, and I look forward to serving with them starting on December 5th.”

Interim Chief of Staff Jason Skeen.
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Depatment)

Tardy is a 28-year veteran of the sheriff’s department who currently serves as chief of its central patrol division. She will be the first female undersheriff in the department’s 172-year history.

She is also Black, which is particularly significant given the long history of racial bias in the sheriff’s department and criticism of Black under-representation in both the rank and file and the leadership of the Long Beach Police Department while Luna was chief.

Tardy’s appointment to the second-highest position in the sheriff’s department signals Luna is serious about having people in leadership roles who have demonstrated commitment to transparency and compliance with the law, said Sean Kennedy, chair of the county Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission.

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“She’s one of the few [sheriff’s department] managers who actually complied with the COC’s subpoena to testify at an oversight committee hearing on deputy gangs,” Kennedy said, referring to her testimony before the commission this summer.

Tardy said during a July hearing that 11 sheriff’s deputies who were “self-admitted” members of a deputy gang were transferred from the Compton station into non-patrol roles, but that none of them were disciplined because they were not found to have violated sheriff’s department policies.

“So that’s a source of optimism that she actually is willing to apply the law, to appear in response to a subpoena and talk about something like this,” Kennedy said.

Tardy said in the Wednesday statement that she is “honored” to be the next undersheriff.

“Sheriff-elect Luna will lead this department in a new direction, and as undersheriff, I’m eager to help him improve public safety and public trust in this department,” she said. “I’ve dedicated my career to making our communities safer and serving with integrity, and I’m very proud to serve as the highest-ranking woman in the history of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.”

Skeen is the current commander of personnel command and previously served as commander of the sheriff’s department’s south patrol division. Like Tardy, he began his career with the department in 1994.


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