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Letters to the Editor: If the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department won’t clean up its act, disband its union

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks during a swearing-in ceremony in Monterey Park on Dec. 3, 2018.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

To the editor: The Times article about Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s ongoing feud with civilian agencies and his department’s continued efforts to intimidate protesters underscores the imperative of enacting an urgent solution. It’s obvious that the entire department is irredeemably entrenched in “Us vs. Them.”

L.A. County MUST have complete control of its law enforcement. Make the department accountable to oversight in each and every way. Individual deputies can be ‘immunized’ from personal liability only if they can be fired at will. The county should be willing to pay out one-time settlements in exchange for hiring/ firing power. That way, deputies will learn to play fair or leave.

If the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs is unwilling to bend to reason, disband and rebuild the LASD without the union.

Spike Tucker, Lompoc

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To the editor: It seems that there is no end to the problems with Villanueva and his department. Week after week, he and/or his deputies are in the news and not in a positive way. Before him it was Sheriff Lee Baca, now in prison.

Ganglike behavior is rampant throughout the department, and they are proud of it. The recent tragic events underline the inability of the Sheriff’s Department to work with the communities it serves and not against them.

The question is, why is sheriff an elective office? It is not just in Los Angeles County. This job requires a person with excellent management skills as well as in-depth knowledge of criminal behavior, criminal justice, community relations and law, areas that the public at large is not equipped to assess. The office of sheriff should be like the police chief of a city, where an appointed committee chooses the person for the job based on a thorough investigation of candidates to assure the chosen person has the skills necessary to be effective.

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An ineffective police chief can be fired. Not so with a sheriff. Let’s work to change the system so that we have competent, accountable leaders in all aspects of law enforcement.

Laurie Guitteau, Santa Barbara
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To the editor: The behavior and rhetoric of Villanueva have been alarming for some time. But the attack on the officers in Compton has increased his vile oratory. I don’t believe there are any excuses for his behavior. Absolutely none.

After all, this has been going on long before the last week. And “spokeswoman” Juanita Navarro-Suarez would not have sent her many racist tweets without at least tacit support from her boss. Her words have been encouraged by his equally racist words and actions.

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When I hear Villanueva, I start to wonder how anyone in the Sheriff’s Department can feel safe, let alone the public that the department is supposed to serve. He acts like there is no need for the department to work in cooperation with the community. The reality is that the community offers as much protection to these officers as the officers provide to the community. Without trust, everyone suffers the consequences.

Villanueva and those who follow his lead are putting officers and the community at risk.

Elizabeth Hall, El Cajon

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To the editor: Deputies are supposed to be trained to deescalate situations. Navarro-Suarez chose to do just the opposite with her inflammatory words.

What was Navarro-Suarez’s intent? Her behavior can only be seen as an attempt to instigate more violence. Striking such a confrontational tone with a whole community — angering the people she serves — while stoking the pain fellow deputies undoubtedly feel, was escalation, pure and simple. What else could her intent be? Her lack of professionalism has to be eliminated from the Los Angels County Sheriff’s Department.

Jeff Bornstein, Canoga Park

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To the editor: The Times’ preposterous claim that the Sheriff’s Department is displaying an “aggressive tone” in its response to the near assassination of two of its deputies boggles the mind. Did The Times expect the department to submissively lavish praise on the suspect?

Sam Chaidez, Mission Hills

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To the editor: Has anyone looked under Villanueva’s uniform shirt to see if he sports gang tattoos, like many of the rogue officers The Times has identified over these past months? His outrageous comments are a tell.

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I can’t believe I voted for this irresponsible hothead.

Jon Merritt, Los Angeles


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