In its virtual meeting Thursday, the Civilian Oversight Commission for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department unanimously voted to approve a subpoena ordering Sheriff Villanueva to attend the oversight body’s next meeting.
The Commission has also set a virtual town hall meeting to hear from the public on Wednesday, May 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Details at the end of this story.
After Villanueva failed to attend or send personnel for the third consecutive meeting, the Civilian Oversight Commission utilized its newly granted subpoena power for the first time, by ordering the Inspector General to issue a subpoena to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his representatives to attend the May 21, 2020 meeting of the Commission.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors granted the Civilian Oversight Commission the authority to subpoena Sheriff personnel and documents in the furtherance of the Commission’s work.
Also, in March of this year, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, which also granted subpoena power to the Oversight Commission.
“After repeated requests for the Sheriff to attend our Commission meetings, no one from the department has shown up,” said Commission Chair Patti Giggans, executive director of Peace over Violence.
“The meetings now conducted virtually twice a month due to the critical COVID-19 crisis are very well attended by the public,” Giggans said. “We are in a pandemic which calls for more oversight, more collaboration, more input into policy, not less. The role of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission is a public mandate and one that every commissioner takes seriously.”
Giggans continued: “Today, the Commission received more than 400 emailed public comments from community members, so there is high public interest in what we are doing. Unfortunately, we have to resort to subpoena to compel the Sheriff to be present to answer questions and for us to engage in our oversight function. The Los Angeles community expects the Commission to fulfill our mandate and to do our job.”
According to Brian K. Williams, executive director of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, on May 5, 2020, a letter was transmitted to Sheriff Villanueva specifically requesting his attendance at today’s Commission meeting to address issues involving the proposed station closings.
On May 6, 2020, Williams was informed that the Sheriff would not attend.
“This is the third meeting in a row where the Sheriff’s Department has not been represented, this is unfair to the Commission, the community and the men and women of the Sheriff’s Department whose voice we also need to hear,” Williams said.
The issue of the Sheriff’s attendance at Thursday’s meeting came to a head during a discussion of the Sheriff’s Department’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis within the county jail system. Out of the current 11,837 inmates within the county jail system, 170 have tested positive for the virus and 3,785 are currently under quarantine. Questions were raised about the current conditions and care of the inmates within the system.
May 13 Commission Virtual Town Hall Meeting
The Civilian Oversight Commission will hist a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 13, from 6 p.m to 8 p.m.
The public is encouraged to attend and share their thoughts at this community listening session.
As the Commission works to boost transparency and accountability, community input is vital to the ongoing analysis of the department’s policies, practices and procedures.
Tell us about:
* What the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is doing right;
* Proposal to close the Altadena and Marina Del Rey Station;
* Possible curtailment of the specialized units that investigate child abuse, sexual abuse, and human trafficking crimes.
Participate: Click https://bit.ly/3bfFpAe to register now. Then on May 13, join via computer or smart phone. When prompted, enter the information requested and the event password: COC-123
For those who wish to provide live public comment, you must register and join the Webex through your computer or smartphone.
Listen only: Call 415-655-0001, and enter the access code: 922 331 768.
For those calling into the meeting via telephone, you will not be able to provide live public comment. However, you may provide written public comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions? Email email@example.com or call 213-253-5678.