LA Sheriff Urges End to Department Hiring Freeze Amid Deputy Shortage

By Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
Jamie is a California-based reporter covering issues in Los Angeles and state policies for The Epoch Times. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and thrillers, going to the beach, studying Christian theology, and writing poetry. You can always find Jamie writing breaking news with a cup of tea in hand.
March 9, 2022 Updated: March 10, 2022

LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva slammed county supervisors during a press conference on March 9 for continuing a hiring freeze on the department amid a deputy shortage.

“This is not sustainable at any level,” Villanueva said at the Hall of Justice on March 9. “People literally are going to die on the streets for lack of us being able to intervene to stop crime or to solve crime.”

The county placed a hiring freeze on several departments during the height of the pandemic in March 2020 to cut back on expenditures. Last October, the supervisors lifted the freeze on every department except for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and staffing positions related to youthful offenders in the Probation Department.

As officials grapple with reimagining public safety and shifting resources to community leaders instead of law enforcement, Villanueva warned that this shift in Los Angeles led to a 94 percent increase in homicides over the last two years. And he said instead of emergency response times being a five-minute threshold in the basin, that could increase to 10 or 15 minutes.

Epoch Times Photo
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva in an interview with EpochTV’s California Insider program on Feb. 8, 2022. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The LASD has been impacted by the freeze and budget setbacks in a handful of its units, Villanueva said. The department has a total of 783 sworn vacancies. Across the entire department, there are roughly 18,000 employees.

Villanueva said effective on April 1, the department will be down over 927 positions, both sworn and professional staff.

In fiscal year 2020–2021, the Board of Supervisors removed 1,281 budgeted positions, Villanueva said, adding that based on the department’s academy classes approved by the supervisors, the department is shrinking.

“What this means is over 2,208 sworn and professional staff are missing during a crime wave,” he said.

During the October 2020 curtailments, the Sheriff’s Department had 22 positions removed from the lab, including forensic identification specialists, crime lab assistant director, and forensic document examiner.

As a result, Villanueva said deputies are overworked, detectives are overloaded with cases, and relatives of crime victims aren’t getting timely updates on the progress of their cases.

“You’re burning the candle on both ends,” Villanueva said.

The department’s threshold to work overtime anywhere in the department used to be 96 hours a month, or 12 extra shifts a month split into eight-hour shifts.

“We had to raise that ceiling to 120 hours. Now we’re up to 15 shifts a month that you can work. You used to be able to only work 12 days in a row. Now that number is increasing to 30 days in a row because we just do not have the personnel, and that is going to be harmful,” he said.

Jamie Joseph
Jamie is a California-based reporter covering issues in Los Angeles and state policies for The Epoch Times. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and thrillers, going to the beach, studying Christian theology, and writing poetry. You can always find Jamie writing breaking news with a cup of tea in hand.