The West Hollywood City Council will have on its Monday agenda several resolutions expressing support for what others are doing to address police violence against Black people. However, it also will consider a locally focused proposal to hire an independent expert on policing to evaluate public safety in West Hollywood and use of force policies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, with which the city contracts for law enforcement services.
The proposal is being brought forward by Council members John D’Amico and Lauren Meister. A memo explaining it calls out recent protests over the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers and the recent shooting in Gardena of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old Latino shot and killed by a Sheriff’s deputy on June 18.
The memo notes that, as a city that contracts with the county Sheriff’s Department rather than having its own law enforcement unit, West Hollywood has little ability to change the department’s policies. “However,” it says, “we can work with our partners at the West Hollywood Sheriff Station and Block by Block to promote local policing that is sensitive to the specific needs and values of the West Hollywood community.”
The memo also notes that the City Council at its June 15 meeting has asked the city’s Public Safety Department to develop recommendations for dealing with issues like conflict de-escalation and resolution. It also has asked that the city’s Public Safety Commission review the West Hollywood’s $20 million contract with the Sheriff’s Department. However, that contract already has been renewed for the 2020-21 fiscal year without the Public Safety Commission’s review.
The memo to the Council states that the city will share the findings of its independent examiner with the Public Safety Commission to solicit its comments. It also proposes that it be shared with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff’s Department and the California Contract Cities Association, as well as the city’s Human Services Commission, the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, and the Transgender Advisory Board to solicit their comments. It does not propose sharing the findings with the county’s Civilian Oversight Commission, whose investigations of certain practices by the Sheriff’s Department have led Sheriff Alex Villanueva to launch an investigation into
Sheriff Alex Villanueva on June 8 issued a statement about the Sheriff’s Department’s use of force policies. He said that all deputies are trained to intervene and stop other deputies from using excessive force and they are not allowed to use chokeholds, strangleholds or actions that could block the carotid artery. Villanueva also said officers must use all reasonable alternatives before using deadly force in making an arrest.
The item going before the Council does not specifically address complaints about Sheriff Villanueva’s management of the Sheriff’s Department, which include his re-hiring of deputies fired for domestic abuse and use of excessive force and his resistance to complying with a state law that requires that law enforcement agencies make public documents regarding the discipline of law enforcement officers. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that it has filed a lawsuit against Los Angele County, alleging that the Sheriff’s Department” has repeatedly refused to turn over public records, including those about deputies involved in misconduct or shootings.” WEHOville has also failed to get the Sheriff’s Department to comply with its requests for information about the 2014 killing of one innocent young man and the wounding of another by deputies at 939 Palm Ave. in West Hollywood.
Villanueva also has upset the family of Andres Guardado by putting a “security hold” on the coroner’s office’s report on Guardado’s death, saying the findings could influence the testimony of witnesses. And he has been criticized by the county’s Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission for not responding to subpoenas requesting information regarding COVID-19 infections in county jails.
The virtual City Council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Monday and can be viewed on the city’s WeHo TV channel and on YouTube.
Members of the public who wish to comment on matters before the City Council can submit a comment using the form located at www.weho.org/councilagendas by no later than 4 p.m. on July 6. Comments received by then will be forwarded to the City Council and posted on the city’s website as part of the official meeting record.
Those who want to comment during the meeting by telephone are asked to email City Clerk Yvonne Quarker at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 4 p.m. on July 6 to be added to the public speaker list for the meeting. That email should include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and which item on the Council’s agenda that you would like to speak on. The agenda can be found online.
Then dial-in to (669) 900-6833 ten minutes prior to the 5:30 p.m. start of the meeting. You will be placed on hold until it is your turn to speak. If asked, the meeting I.D number is 98612170433.