Alex Villanueva’s long shot victory over incumbent L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell in November surprised experts. Villanueva was a retired lieutenant with no experience in the top command. But he won over a majority of voters with promises to reform the department, which has serious problems ranging from racial profiling to a shortage of deputies.
This is an important time for the sheriff's department and its new leader.
The LASD is huge. It patrols 141 unincorporated communities, 42 cities, 9 community colleges and provides bailiffs in all 37 county courthouses. The sheriff also operates LA's jail system, which has about 18,000 inmates. (About 1/3 of all inmates have a mental illness, so the jails are almost like hospitals too.)
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