Proposed Charter Amendment to Authorize Board of Supervisors to Remove a Sheriff for Unlawful Actions or Abuse of Power Heads to November Ballot
LOS ANGELES, Calif.— Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Board) approved an ordinance drafted by County Counsel, that will allow for a special election this November for an amendment to the County Charter. If passed by voters, the charter amendment would grant the Board of Supervisors the authority to remove a Sheriff for unlawful actions or a violation of statutory duties by a four-fifths vote of the Board.
“Today’s action gives voters the opportunity to decide whether the Sheriff can be removed by the Board of Supervisors for violating the law,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “Under the current system, voters must wait for a grand jury to convene, a quo warranto action, or a recall election to be held. Our Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission and the community have repeatedly asked our Board to explore stronger options for meaningful accountability. The voters deserve a chance to decide whether this is the right way to enhance accountability of the Sheriff.”
The proposed charter amendment preserves the public’s right to elect a Sheriff and does not interfere with the independent and constitutionally designated responsibilities of a Sheriff. Cause for the removal of a Sherriff is detailed in the measure and the measure would allow the Board to implement a process to provide written notice to a Sheriff of the grounds for removal, followed by an opportunity for the Sheriff to be heard, and a public four-fifths vote by the Board in order to approve any removal. Unlawful actions and violations of duties that qualify as cause for the Board to vote to remove a Sheriff, include:
- Violation of any law related to the performance of a Sheriff’s duties;
- Flagrant or repeated neglect of a Sheriff’s duties as defined by law;
- Misappropriation of public funds or property as defined in California law;
- Willful falsification of a relevant official statement or document; or
- Obstruction, as defined in federal, State, or local law applicable to a Sheriff, of any investigation into the conduct of a Sheriff and/or the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department by any government agency, office, or commission with jurisdiction to conduct such an investigation
The Board with support from community advocates and the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, has taken significant steps to create a system of accountability and transparency in which the Sheriff can operate lawfully – this includes granting the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission the power to subpoena the Sheriff. However, this system lacks a sustainable ability to quickly respond to unlawful actions and egregious misconduct within a County that has a history of Sheriff corruption.
In May of this year, after years of hearing testimony regarding a culture of abuse of power by the Sheriff’s Department and from families impacted by Sheriff deputy gangs and violence, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission issued a resolution urging the Board to place a charter amendment on the November ballot to strengthen accountability for public safety by establishing additional checks and balances on the Sheriff.
“For the Civilian Oversight Commission, the action taken today by the Board of Supervisors is a step toward bringing another means for accountability to an office that wields power and influence over our community” said Brian Williams, Executive Director, Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission.
The Board approved the July 12, 2022 motion, authored by Chair Holly J. Mitchell and co-authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, that directed County Counsel to draft the ordinance to bring the charter amendment to voters.