Letters to the Editor: Elections aren’t enough to hold sheriffs accountable. Allow impeachment too

Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks at a lectern at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks during a news conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 23.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: No one should be above the law. And “no elected official — and especially not a law enforcement official — should be free of constitutional checks and balances.”

This was written in a November 2019 editorial by the same editorial board that now dismisses our proposed charter amendment to strengthen civilian oversight and create common sense checks and balances on the Los Angeles County sheriff. The recent editorial fundamentally misunderstands our proposal, its goals and timeline.

The amendment is not just about Sheriff Alex Villanueva. While Villanueva underscores the point, L.A. County has deep familiarity with past sheriffs who also abused their positions, resisted accountability and inflicted lasting harm on our communities.


Neither elections every four years nor the theoretical possibility of recalls have had any measurable impact on the accountability of sheriffs. The deficient structure of our county government enables this, and the Board of Supervisors has the power and responsibility to help change it.

James M. Thomas, Van Nuys

The writer is president of the San Fernando Valley NAACP.