The Los Angeles County sheriff says more law enforcement is needed on the streets, echoing his counterpart in Minneapolis who pushed back on calls to defund departments as Georgia’s state legislature moves closer to dissolving local police agencies in the wake of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting.
Calls to cut funding for police and in some cases to abolish departments altogether have grown out of the protest movement that erupted following the police-involved death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
But senior law enforcement officials say that their agencies are underfunded and that cutting back on the number of police officers on the streets puts communities in danger.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told Fox News on Monday that reducing the number of police officers on the streets ‘should be the last thing in the world’ that residents demand.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva (above) on Monday pushed back on calls to defund the police, saying it would endanger communities across America
‘LA County is the largest county in the nation,’ Villanueva said.
‘We are the most understaffed law enforcement agency in the entire nation with an average of one deputy per 1,000 residents.’
By comparison, Villanueva said that the New York Police Department has four officers per 1,000 residents.
He also sounded a ‘note of caution’ to those advocating for cutting the number of police officers in large cities.
‘Ask the average person who is not involved in the criminal justice system,’ he said.
‘They’re not suspects, formerly incarcerated, currently incarcerated, or relatives of those incarcerated.
‘Ask that crowd: the people who do their job day to day, they want to make sure they have that safety net to know that they can get to home from work and back without being hassled, without being burglarized while they are at work, for example.’
Villanueva added: ‘Ask people, what about crime? Who’s gonna do what?
‘They never have a good answer. They talk about this utopian society that doesn’t exist.
‘If and when we get to that point, I’ll be the first to defund us, but we’re not there.’
LASD has come under fire in recent days after the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old security guard.
The sister of Andres Guardado has urged officials to further examine the circumstances leading up to her sibling’s death in Gardena on Thursday night.
US Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán and Maxine Waters have joined the Guardado family in calling for an independent investigation.
‘Another day and another Black or Brown kid has been shot in the back by police,’ the Los Angeles-based democrats said in a joint statement. ‘These killings must stop. We demand it. The American people demand it.’
LASD is under fire after the fatal shooting of an Hispanic teen last week. Andres Guardado, 18, was standing outside the autobody shop where he worked in Gardena, in the South Bay region of Los Angeles. His boss told reporters Guardado had a clean record, and that the approaching sheriffs pulled their own guns on the teenager, which scared him into fleeing the scene
Guardado’s sister, Jennifer Guardado (above) has urged officials to further examine the circumstances leading up to her sibling’s death in Gardena on Thursday night
Relatives of Guardado, embrace as they tour the site of the shooting inside an auto shop in Gardena, California
Andres Guardado, 18, was standing outside the autobody shop where he worked in Gardena, in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, guarding against graffiti taggers on Thursday evening.
The Hispanic teenager allegedly spotted officers patrolling the area just before 6pm, and investigators say they saw him flash a handgun before taking off, police said.
However his boss told reporters Guardado had a clean record, and that the approaching sheriffs pulled their own guns on the teenager, which scared him into fleeing the scene.
Officers began chasing him on foot southbound before a deputy fired a gun ‘at least several times’, striking Guardado’s upper torso and killing him.
County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has also since added his voice to the chorus calling for an independent investigation, requesting that the Office of the Inspector General step in to divulge specifically what happened.
‘I firmly believe that an immediate and independent investigation must be conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) into this matter, and I urge the Sheriff’s Department to immediately and fully cooperate with this OIG independent investigation,’ Ridley-Thomas said in a written statement.
Head of the LA County Sheriff Department’s homicide division, Capt. Kent Wegener, says that deputies reported seeing Guardado – who allegedly wasn’t wearing a uniform – talking to someone in a car outside of the auto-shop.
Authorities say Guardado ‘looked to the deputies’ and ‘produced a gun’ before running away, Wegener said during a news conference Saturday. He added that Guardado was too young to work as a state-licensed security guard at the business.
Andres Guardado, 18 (pictured), from Los Angeles, California, was shot and killed at around 6pm on Thursday evening outside the autobody shop where he was employed
The shooting took place in an alleyway in the back of the building. Guardado was shot in the torso, Wegener said, adding that the medical examiner will perform an autopsy.
Guardado’s family, meanwhile, insist the teen was actually shot in the back as he ran.
Investigators said they recovered a modified .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol at the scene. It had no markings or serial number and appeared to have been pieced together from different parts.
The gun had not been fired, the police captain said. Guardado’s family have insisted that they do not believe the teenager was armed.
Jennifer Guardado said Friday that her brother did not carry weapons. She says she wants to meet the deputy who shot Guardado and see video footage of what happened.
‘They’re not going to kill an innocent person and get away with it,’ she said. ‘There will be justice in this world.’
Villanueva promised to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in the ongoing investigation. Investigators have taken footage from six or seven exterior cameras from the scene of Thursday’s shooting for examination.
‘Shootings are thoroughly investigated,’ he said Saturday. ‘It’s a deliberative process that can sometimes be maddeningly slow.’
Villanueva said the shooting underscores why the department needs to get body cameras for all of its uniformed deputies as soon as possible. The department is currently soliciting bids for a company to provide the cameras.
Meanwhile, a bill to let local voters decide whether to abolish the scandal-plagued Glynn County police department has gone to Governor Brian Kemp for his approval or veto, having gained support in the Georgia legislature after the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
The state House voted 159-3 on Monday to approve Senate Bill 504, creating a nonbinding advisory referendum on whether to abolish the department and hand its law enforcement responsibilities back to the elected county sheriff in unincorporated parts of the coastal Georgia county.
A separate measure that would make the referendum binding passed the House on Friday by a vote of 152-3 and is pending before the Senate.
If that also passes in the waning days of this legislative session, it would fall to Kemp to decide how much power to give the county’s voters to decide the issue in November.
Glynn County commissioners oppose both measures, saying two local Republican lawmakers are trying to help their political ally, Sheriff Neal Jump.
The Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill that will allow voters to decide whether to abolish law enforcement agencies in Glynn County over their handling of the investigation into the fatal March shooting of 25-year-old black man Ahmaud Arbery (above)
Arbery was fatally shot on February 23 when a white father and son armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old black man running in their neighborhood.
More than two months passed before Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
Arrests came after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local prosecutors.
Efforts to abolish the department had been progressing, albeit more slowly, before Arbery was shot, motivated by a series of scandals.
The police chief and three former high-ranking officers were indicted in March on charges that they ignored an officer consorting with a drug dealer.
A Glynn County narcotics officer was found to have been having sex with two confidential informants.
There have been claims of unjustified shootings by the department’s officers.
Glynn County Chairman Mike Browning and most of his fellow commissioners have stood by the department nevertheless.
‘To use the death of this young man, to invoke the name of Ahmaud Arbery, who was gunned down while running down a street, to play on the emotions of everyone in the House and the Senate has brought us to a new low in the state of Georgia,’ Browning told The Brunswick News.
On Sunday, the Minneapolis police chief said he’s not in favor of dismantling the city’s embattled police system, despite a City Council move to abolish the force, but conceded, ‘We know it’s broken. We need to make changes’.
Minneapolis has been the focal point of the Black Lives Matter movement unfolding across the country following the death of Floyd at the hands of a white MPD officer on May 25.
Following the brutal police killing, on June 12 the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to replace the city’s police department with a community-led public safety system.
However, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo doesn’t agree with calls to dissolve the MPD.
‘Each and every day I hear from community members who rely upon us, who are saying that we cannot afford to take away a public safety mechanism when we still have a lawless society,’ he said in an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night.
Minneapolis’ Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he does not support dismantling the force in an interview with 60 Minutes aired Sunday night saying: ‘Each and every day I hear from community members who rely upon us, who are saying that we cannot afford to take away a public safety mechanism when we still have a lawless society’
‘Now, they also say we need good policing. We know it’s broken. We need to make changes,’ he added.
The groundbreaking move to disband the police department followed the example of other high-profile local agencies including Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation and the University of Minnesota from severing ties with the MPD.
Other cities are declaring similar demands to dismantle police systems and create alternative agencies in an effort to eradicate bias in law enforcement and end brutality.
Chief Arradondo said he doesn’t see racial animosity within the police force, but is working to address the systemic barriers that exist, including contract talks with the police union.
He said such barriers block cops from being hit with charges of misconduct.
Minneapolis has been the focal point of the Black Lives Matter movement unfolding across the country following the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of a white MPD officer on May 25
Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old white cop who has since been arrested, was seen in footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the victim repeatedly said he could not breathe (incident pictured)
In the case of George Floyd, white officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck. Arradondo says Chauvin had at least 17 complaints against him, but only received two letters of reprimand.
Host Lesley Stahl asked him: ‘Is the bottom line that you cannot weed out the so-called bad apples, and you cannot fully discipline to the extent you want to, because of the union contract?’
He replied: ‘It is problematic, absolutely. Yes. And so I cannot in good faith work with a contract that diminishes my authority as chief but also erodes that public trust that our communities need so much right now.’
He said one step he’s taken was to walk away from contract talks with the police union the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation because it curtails his authority by allowing officers who were fired or disciplined to get their jobs back in arbitration.
‘I, as chief, am stepping away from that. I am taking a deliberate pause,’ he sad.
The Minneapolis police department came under intense scrutiny following Floyd’s death on May 25.
Arradondo, a 30-year veteran and the first black man to head the mostly white police department, fired the four officers involved in Floyd’s death within 24 hours.
From left to right: Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane
For weeks now protests have unfolded across the city that have culminated into clashes with police. Minneapolis police pictured spraying protesters with pepper spray during a protest decrying the death of George Floyd outside of the Third Police Precinct on May 27
A protester is sprayed with pepper spray by a Minneapolis Police officer on May 30 as protesters demonstrate during the fifth day of protests over George Floyd’s death
He admitted that police initially released to the press that Floyd resisted arrest and died ‘after a medical incident during a police interaction’ when in reality he did not resist and fell unconscious under the pressure of Chauvin’s unmoving knee.
His death was ruled a homicide caused by ‘a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained’.
Speaking on the harrowing video footage of Floyd’s death, which was filmed by a 17-year-old, Arradondo became emotional.
‘When I saw that video, it was probably in my 30-plus years, the most heart-wrenching, emotional, image that I had ever seen,’ he said.
What will Minneapolis look like without a police department?
There is no short-term plan to scrap the Minneapolis police department, the city council says.
As of Friday, the council have started a year-long process to find recommendations for what will replace it.
The replacement is set to be a community-led public safety system that will redirect funds from the department and channel them into community services aimed at preventing crime.
Money could be redirected to mental health services, social services, jobs programs, and arts groups.
Jobs such as traffic stops, overdose call-outs and mental health calls may be taken away from officers.
One recommendation from activists involves a smaller, more-specialized force of ‘public servants’ who would deal with solving violent crimes.
County sheriffs, whose jurisdiction includes Minneapolis, could be used as a stop-gap police force.
Even after Floyd’s death sparked outrage and passionate protests, another black man was shot by a white officer in Atlanta and 24 hours later the Atlanta police chief resigned, but Chief Arradondo said he never considered leaving his post.
‘No. I– I did not consider stepping down. When George Floyd’s death occurred, my minutes and my hours and my days were consumed with– really trying to– to keep this city, um, held together.’
While the officers involved in Floyd’s death were fired, it took time for them to be hit with charges.
Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder on June 3. He had previously been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
He was arrested on May 29 and is being held at Minnesota Department of Corrections. His bail sits at $1million.
On Wednesday June 3 the three other officers involved – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane – were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
On Wednesday June 10 Thomas Lane was released from Hennepin County Jail after posting bail. The bail for him and the other officers was set at $1million unconditional or $750,000 with conditions.
He had been on the police force for four days when Floyd died.
On Friday June 19 J. Alexander Kueng was released on $750,000 bail bond.
Now Minneapolis’ City Council will now begin a year-long process of engaging ‘with every willing community member in Minneapolis’ to come up with a new public safety model to replace the MPD.
The resolution states the process will center on ‘the voices of Black people, American Indian people, people of color, immigrants, victims of harm, and other stakeholders who have been historically marginalized or under-served by our present system’.
‘Together, we will identify what safety looks like for everyone,’ the resolution reads.
The council also commissioned a new work group named the Future of Community Safety Work Group to deliver recommendations by July 24 on how to engage with community stakeholders to transform the public safety system.
It will be made up of staff from the Office of Violence Prevention, the Department of Civil Rights, and the City Coordinator’s Office, in coordination with the 911 Working Group, the Division of Race and Equity, Neighborhood and Community Relations and other relevant departments.