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Sheriff Villanueva’s criticism of the civil service system is profoundly reckless

Sheriff Villanueva’s criticism of the civil service system is profoundly reckless
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks in front of L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 29. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: For good reasons law enforcement officers are held to standards much higher than civilian employees. This truism appears to be lost on Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who is rightly facing serious criticism over his decision to rehire a deputy who had been fired based on allegations of domestic violence.

Having served as a hearing officer for the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission, I can attest to the importance of holding law enforcement to a higher standard, including discipline for domestic violence.

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Like other hearing officers, my decisions were based on the evidence, documented by my findings and submitted in writing to the commission. Villanueva’s assertion that fact finders and decision makers involved in civil service hearings are “directed” to make particular rulings or are offered financial incentives to do so is totally untrue and reckless.

The civil service system is integral to good government, particularly the function of law enforcement. The current sheriff presents a clear and present danger to that reality.

Michael H. Miller, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The voters of Los Angeles County made an egregious error when they elected a retired lieutenant as sheriff of a major policing agency, and thereby removing an experienced, tried and proven police administrator.

Former Sheriff Jim McDonnell, with a magnificent background in police administration, had over many years faced a multitude of decision-making challenges, the kind that no one in lower ranks has had much more than a mere smattering of experience to handle.

Based on all the news reports prior to and during the election, Villanueva strikes me as the kind of officer who blamed administrators for his failure to receive promotions and desired assignments rather than accept the fact that his performance fell short.

Los Angeles County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl deserve credit for wanting to look deeper into Villanueva’s actions.

Jim Weyant, Big Bear City, Calif.

The writer is a former police officer and deputy district attorney of Los Angeles County.

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