The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Alex Villanueva faced off again Tuesday, with the board voting to take all necessary legal action to ensure that sheriff’s department watchdogs have access to body camera video and necessary investigative information.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly J. Mitchell co-authored the motion, saying it was part of the board’s effort to protect families whose loved ones have been killed by sheriff’s deputies from department harassment.
“From securing access to electronic databases and body-worn cameras to investigating all criminal allegations of misconduct and more, the county is committed to protecting and supporting the rights of surviving families,” Solis said. That could include accessing records maintained by the sheriff’s department via cloud-based storage systems, according to the motion.
At the top of the board meeting, Villanueva called the motion “part of your political agenda to disparage and delegitimize law enforcement” and warned that it would run afoul of state laws.
“This is gonna be tied up in court. It’s going to require a legal defense, and you’re going to pay both sides and the taxpayer is going to pay for exactly what purpose? I mean, this is utter nonsense,” Villanueva said. He also objected to calling those killed by deputies victims, rather than suspects.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger told her colleagues she had planned to vote against the motion, but ultimately ended up abstaining. Barger seemed particularly bothered by attacks on the inspector general’s integrity.
“Max Huntsman is a man of integrity … to imply that he is crooked in any way is once again, completely distorting the facts and, in fact, an outright lie,” Barger said.
“I was prepared to vote no on this motion. I still don’t feel this motion is the way I would go about it, but I have a hard time hearing what the sheriff said in his opening comments from being convinced that we don’t need to be a little aggressive.”
The board also asked for a report back on the feasibility of establishing an independent Office of Law Enforcement Standards.