Los Angeles County Sheriff candidates accuse incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva of enabling ‘deputy gangs’ in the department

Four candidates for Los Angeles County Sheriff criticized sitting Sheriff Alex Villanueva for allowing cliques within the department to develop during a forum in San Pedro on Sunday.

The candidates running for county sheriff — LASD Lieutenant Eric Strong, LAX Chief Cecil Rhambo, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, and former LASD Chief Eli Vera — discussed their platforms, alleged “deputy gangs,” and the torn relationship between law enforcement and marginalized communities…

At the forum, the candidates came to a consensus that unauthorized subgroups within the department are a primary concern for the county and for law enforcement.

“I don’t think ever anyone ever expected an individual to behave in the matter that we’ve witnessed,” Vera said of Villanueva, who has not responded to subpoenas from the Civilian Oversight Commission regarding their investigations into deputy subgroups.

“What are you teaching your deputy sheriffs?” he continued, addressing Villanueva. “You’re teaching your deputy sheriffs that, if someone disagrees with you, that someone has a difference of a being from you, then you utterly shun them, you call them names, you treat them with disrespect. What happens when you model that? What do you think your deputy sheriffs are gonna do in patrol?”

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