To the editor: Incoming Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s immediate replacement of numerous high-ranking department officials does not bode well for law enforcement.
No one can really dispute the professional credentials of outgoing Sheriff Jim McDonnell and his care in appointing an executive staff. Villanueva’s immediate removal of these people is reckless and cannot help but hurt any semblance of a reasonable transition. The department and the public will suffer greatly.
The Sheriff’s Department is a huge agency. McDonnell pledged a thorough and helpful transition, which cannot happen now. Villanueva’s brash action also suggests a motivation aside from his stated reason of getting rid of “cronyism and a corrupt culture.”
Watch out, Los Angeles.
Michael H. Miller, Los Angeles
To the editor: It is not encouraging that Villanueva planned a massive shakeup of the Sheriff’s Department before even taking office, nor that he does not have the courtesy to notify the affected employees in person.
A good manager knows that one should move cautiously in such circumstances. Even if one assumes that the department is rife with corrupt incompetents, it makes sense to take a few weeks to arrange an orderly transition and to be certain that each replacement has been undertaken with thoughtful care.
I hope that this is not a harbinger of things to come, but I fear that Villanueva may prove to be a major step backward for a department that was just beginning to address its failings.
Geoff Kuenning, Claremont
To the editor: When I voted for Villanueva, it was not out of any particular displeasure with McDonnell. I did so because I am a Democrat, a believer in Democratic Party philosophy, and my party endorsed Villanueva.
Presumably, there were many like me who were conflicted on this choice. I respected McDonnell’s efforts to reform a brutal subculture in our jails and, in so doing, to stand up to the deputies’ union. I assumed Villanueva would continue this progress.
If he reverses these long-needed reforms, he will not be able to ride his party affiliation to a second term. I and many more like me will be watching. We will not make the same mistake twice.
Thomas Bailey, Long Beach