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Criminal Justice

LA Sheriff Villanueva Blocks Inspector General's Access To Records

L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva, in uniform, speaks at a podium during an April 26, 2022 news conference, with his left arm extended horizontally, his palm facing forward, his fingers outstretched.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
(Screenshot from Sheriff's Department Facebook video)
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Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he is blocking Inspector General Max Huntsman’s access to all internal records and prohibiting him from entering any department building.

Why it matters: These types of restrictions would make it nearly impossible for the inspector general to do his job of watch-dogging the Sheriff's Department.

Why now: Villanueva says it's because Huntsman is the target of a second criminal investigation, claiming he may have broken the law when he informed county counsel that Sheriff's deputies might search the home of County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

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The department has also investigated Huntsman for allegedly accessing records illegally — he says he did nothing wrong. That has so far not resulted in any charges.

Huntsman has not commented on the latest move, except to say his staff still appears to have access to Sheriff's Department buildings.

Listen to our in-depth podcast on Sheriff Villanueva: Ep. 2 — A shocking upset

The backstory: Villanueva and Huntsman have clashed almost from the time the sheriff took office in late 2018. Huntsman says the first criminal investigation and previous limitations on his access to records were retaliation for his critical report on Villanueva's effort to rehire a deputy who had been fired for domestic violence and lying. They have also butted heads many times over the sheriff's resistance to Huntsman's oversight efforts.

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