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Supervisors Seek To Remove Sheriff As Head Of Emergency Operations Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is taking steps to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the head of the county’s emergency operations center during the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Thursday.

The March 31 board meeting agenda indicates that supervisors plan to vote on the removal of Villanueva as the head of emergency operations, replacing his role in charge of the county’s emergency response with county Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai.

“They keep insisting ‘this is a health crisis.’ No, this is a humanitarian crisis,” Villanueva said during a Thursday press conference, referencing opinions had been shared stating that law enforcement was not the proper choice for crisis leadership during a pandemic.

During the county coronavirus update on Thursday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger acknowledged that there were some issues regarding who exactly is in charge, but noted that it was not the foremost issue.

“Now is not the time to argue about who is in charge, there is really nothing to respond to,” said Barger. “This action is in response to an outside auditor in November.”

Barger went on to state that the Sheriff was given an opportunity to respond before the originally scheduled date of discussion, which had been set for March 17.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve moved on, because I respect the rule that we have during this pandemic,” Barger said.

Villanueva suggested the board was moving now because of a subsequent controversy over his plan to close gun stores across the county. Villanueva claimed that he has the authority to force them to close under California’s coronavirus response guidelines, but several county representatives disagree.

“This is pretty much a silent coup, what they’re trying to orchestrate,” Villanueva said in an interview with the L.A. Times on Wednesday. “We should be worried about masks, about test kits, and I have Kathryn Barger worried about guns and ammunition.”

See Related: Gun Store Closure Remains In Effect In L.A. County After Sheriff Confers With Governor

Villanueva noted Thursday that there were safety issues in the way that other county leaders were running press conferences, stating that audiences stop paying attention when too many people get in front of a microphone to thank one another.

“I say let’s stop thanking each other and focus on the task in hand, and when it is all said and done, then at the end of the day, then will be the time to thank everyone, starting with the people on the ground who are depending on good leadership,” said Villanueva. “When we have this type of thing, unfortunately people that may have an important message (are) going to get lost because people are going to tune you out.”

On Thursday, Villanueva hosted a press conference addressing several issues in the county, including the proposal to remove him, a decision that Villanueva described as an issue that “reared its ugly head” on Wednesday.

He noted that despite the controversy, he was largely concerned about the safety of Los Angeles County residents, saying that “this type of attempt or transition puts everyone in peril.”

When asked if egos are partially to blame for the apparent power struggle, Villanueva agreed. 

“That is absolutely correct. Because some people just don’t want to be told what the limits of their Authority are or what their role is … As the elected Sheriff I have a role as a Director of Emergency Operations, but when I’m working with a unified coordination group I just have my perspective from law enforcement and the impact that’s going to have on whatever decisions are made by the group,” said Villanueva. “That is how the process works. That is what teamwork is all about. So I encourage my counterparts on the Board of Supervisors to join the game and let’s do this the right way.”

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Supervisors Seek To Remove Sheriff As Head Of Emergency Operations Amid Coronavirus Pandemic


  1. Villanueva was voted in because of corrupt deceitful “ballot harvesting”, as were others!! The Liberals will never stop at bringing down society! Look at Seattle to San Diego, degradation by Liberals!!
    If a father wants to take his family target shooting, they have to fill out forms & wait!! The bad guys don’t!!

    • This has nothing to do with gun rights. Every business that is non-essential is closed to slow down Covid-19. This has nothing to do with a supposed liberal agenda.

  2. In the same way that everyone should have pulled together in the beginning of the shutdown, right-thinking citizens took a look at what they needed, and had on hand, and didn’t rush out and hoard what they didn’t need. That should have been the same for gun owners, but foolish people made a run on gun stores too. That’s why Sheriff Villanueva made the right decision in calling them non- essential. No one wants to keep a father from taking his family out target shooting, if indeed, it would even be appropriate in this time of “stay-at-home”. This is in spite of whatever political view you may have of the sheriff. I also agree that the news conference was a real sleep-inducer because of all the thanking of every speaker before they got to the vital info.

  3. Berta González-Harper

    Sheriff Villanueva should be removed from office because he has failed to uphold the oath he swore to defend our Constitution, uphold the laws, and defend us from enemies both foreign and domestic. He neither protects nor serves the citizens. He picks and chooses which laws he will enforce. He does not cooperate with anyone regarding immigration laws, advocates for illegal aliens, but has no problem denying law abiding citizens their rights, such as our right to defend ourselves exercising our Constitutionally guaranteed 2nd Amendment rights, all while he releases convicted felons into our neighborhoods. He is a dangerous ass not a leader.

  4. I said this when the sheriff was elected through ballot harvesting.

    The City of Santa Clarita must begin the process to develop and implement it’s own independent police department. Stevenson Ranch is welcome to annex into the city as well – that way Stevenson Ranch receives police services from the City of Santa Clarita and not the sheriff’s department. One police department for most of the Santa Clarita Valley – based and accountable here – not Los Angeles.


  5. Villanueva has an ego the size of LA County!

  6. Only in LA is there a power struggle over which clown is in charge in the face of a pandemic! Lets get it together leaders!

  7. Captain Lewis and the whole Santa Clarita Sheriff Department supports drug dealing and are brutal and corrupt! They are only interested in getting paid off. Look at the google and yelp reviews of these corrupt thugs! This department is one of the worst and most corrupt in the country. They protect the criminals and brutalize innocent people trying to report drug dealing and meth labs that are near the station and the mall -their back yard. I wonder when the FBI will raid these pigs.


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About Jade Aubuchon

A Santa Clarita native, Jade has spent her whole life involved in community outreach. After graduating from Learning Post High in 2015, she went on to College of the Canyons to pursue a double major in English and Marketing. Jade spent several years as a ballroom dance performer for a local studio and has performed at public and private events throughout Santa Clarita.