By Amy Fullerton
LOS ANGELES, CA – In a staff report released by the City Council and Mayor of West Hollywood this week, information was made public about the probable use of public safety funds and personnel to fund a detail commissioned by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to investigate his outspoken critics.
“Resolution in Opposition to the Use of Public Safety Funds and Personnel for Political Purposes” was initiated by Councilmember Lindsey P. Horvath and prepared by the Community and Legislative Affairs Division.
The staff report comes in response to a July 27, 2020 report in the Los Angeles Times that disclosed how the Sheriff criticized Supervisor Hilda Solis for “her comments earlier that week on systemic brutality and racism by police toward people of color.”
A year later on Sept. 23, 2021, the LA Times disclosed information that Villanueva reportedly using public safety funds and personnel to create the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Detail.
The Civil Rights and Public Integrity Detail was created with the sole purpose to investigate individuals who have spoken out against the LASD without any probable criminal cause, according to the news report.
Since the creation of this detail, no arrests or charges have been filed which appears to local observers to believe this detail was created as a scare tactic to silence individuals who feel the need to speak out against the LASD and Villanueva.
The detail has targeted marginalized women of power who have become outspoken critics of Villanueva.
Two people who are known to be important lesbian community leaders, LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Peace Over Violence Executive Director Patti Giggans, are among those who were specifically targeted by the detail, according to the report.
Over the past few years, Giggans has worked with the City of West Hollywood to combat domestic violence and has committed time and effort to bettering the West Hollywood community.
Additionally, known critic LA County Inspector General Max Huntsman, was also under investigation by the detail after Huntsman wanted to make public reports, said the Times.
Despite no crimes taking place, Huntsman said he believes Villanueva and his detail are targeting and investigating him in “an attempt to commit extortion to prevent [him] from making public reports.”
The Civilian Oversight Commission is a group that oversees the Sheriff and his agency. The Civilian Oversight Commission has suggested Villanueva is using his specifically designated detail to send a warning message to those who criticize or challenge him as Sheriff.
Concerning these recent developments, the City of West Hollywood noted it does not support the creation of the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Detail for political purposes and said the detail does not properly align with the core values it strives to achieve.
The City of West Hollywood officially condemned the use of public safety funds and personnel for political purposes in the staff report and recommended a public forum on Nov. 15 to discuss alternative ways the City of West Hollywood can support local communities outside of the LASD.