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Criminal Justice

Robert Luna Is Sworn In As Los Angeles County Sheriff

A man in a sheriff's uniform stand in front of a podium and holds up his right hand while his left hand is placed on the hands of a Black woman while another white woman reads a document
New Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna is sworn in as the 34th Los Angeles Sheriff by the Honorable Samantha Jersey, Presiding Judge-elect of the Superior Court of Los Angeles Count. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
(Brian Feinzimer
for LAist)
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Former Long Beach police chief Robert Luna has been sworn in as Los Angeles County Sheriff. Luna's victory over Alex Villanueva was only the second time in almost a century that an incumbent lost a re-election bid. Luna said his new department is going to be guided by three principles: integrity, accountability, and collaboration.

Why it matters: The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is the largest in the country, patrolling a wide swath of the county, including 42 "contract cities" and unincorporated areas, like Altadena. The LASD also operates the county's massive jail system.

Luna is an outsider who is taking over a department after a very tumultuous period of mismanagement by the former Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

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During Saturday's swearing in ceremony, Luna said his department would be guided by three key principles:

Integrity, accountability, collaboration. If we embrace these three principles, I know we can be in a better place tomorrow than where we are today. And I'm very optimistic about the future of this department.

Why now: Luna's term officially begins on Monday at noon. He promised new strategies to address homelessness, repair relationships with the community, and modernize the Sheriff's Department overall.

"We need less polarization and more partnerships and that's the direction we're going to be going," said Luna. "The best way to reduce crime is to work with our community, not against them."

A man with grayish dark hair and mustache, wearing a sheriff's uniform, stands behind a podium with red and blue flowers in vases on pedestals on either side of him
New Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna speaking after being sworn in as the 34th Los Angeles Sheriff. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
(Brian Feinzimer
for LAist)

The backstory: The previous sheriff Alexa Villanueva was elected four years ago as a reformer, but he soon clashed with other county agencies, including the Board of Supervisors, and battled with the Civilian Oversight Commission that was put in place as a watchdog of the LASD.

As sheriff, Villanueva rolled back discipline guidelines his predecessor had set up after years of corruption in the department, and he mocked reforms.

In contrast, Luna has promised to work closely with all agencies and partners.

What's next: Luna has a lot of work to do by to win trust of deputies who mostly supported Villanueva in the election while instituting needed reforms. The LASD faces an investigation by the California Department of Justice into allegations of civil rights violations, including excessive use of force, deputy gangs, and challenges with recruiting new deputies.

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